Can some cacao a day (really) keep the doctor away? Let’s breakdown this energy-boosting superfood – once and for all.
After all, cacao is one of the tastiest ingredients on the planet. Not only does it end up in chocolate, cakes, muffins, brownies (need we go on….) and other delicious concoctions, but is also good for you.
What you may not be aware of is that in each tablespoon, you are getting a lot of amazing health benefits from this wonder food.
Originally, These benefits were discovered thousands of years ago when the Incas even considered it the drink of the Gods. They found it to be so beneficial that they relied on it for healing. (so, do we when we teach for a hot chocolate!)
The quick lowdown is that cacao is full of antioxidants, good fats, and fibre that are incredibly helpful to your health. Consuming cacao on a regular basis may help improve your energy, aid in weight loss, and help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Sounds amazing, right? But before you go rushing off to the convenience store to grab a family-sized block or two of chocolate, let’s delve a little deeper to find out more about these benefits.
First thing first: Difference between raw cacao and cocoa
Raw cacao and cocoa might taste and look the same but they are actually two different things. Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing raw cacao beans and in this process, no nutrients are lost by the heat treating. Cocoa on the other hand is raw cacao that is roasted at high temperature and is heavily processed to obtain the powder form.
Raw cacao is heavily loaded with flavonoids and magnesium and other super nutrients that are beneficial in the long run for health and wellness, so you can officially add it to the superfood list. It’s the perfect way to satisfy a chocolate craving without the processed sugar.
Benefits of raw cacao in your diet
If you’re someone who has a chocolate addiction (basically the entire population!), then try finding ways to swap it for cacao in your diet instead. Here’s why it’s worth the swap:
1.Hello, Energy Boost!
If it seems normal for you to feel exhausted even if you are getting enough rest, chances are, your magnesium levels are way too low. Raw cacao is loaded with magnesium. It is actually one of its key mineral components . Having cacao regularly in the morning can give you the energy boost you need. Try adding a couple of tablespoons to a berry and banana based smoothie. Yum!
2. Good Mood Food
Cacao contains anandamide, also known as the “bliss” molecule, that is responsible for sending “happy” signals to your brain, boosting your mood and making you feel good. It also helps combat mood swings by boosting serotonin levels in the brain,
3. It’s Sweet But Keeps Sugar at Bay
As we’ve mentioned, you don’t have to worry about the sugar with cacao. In fact, studies have shown that the nutrients found in raw cacao can even regulate blood sugar level and can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
4. Skin Glow-Getter
Cacao helps increase blood flow to the skin surface giving you that bright and natural glow. It is also a good source of sulphur that aids in building natural collagen in the body, which is important in producing healthy skin tissues. Not only that, it keeps nails and hair shiny too!
5. Say No Thanks To Premature Ageing
Cacao is loaded with antioxidants. The Polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao protect the cell from premature oxidation that causes premature ageing. Natural cacao face mask, anyone?
6. Protects Your Heart
Cacao contains Flavanol, an anti-inflammatory and heart protective anti-oxidant. This mineral, according to studies, can help protect against heart disease and helps greatly in improving blood circulation. Remember, a good blood flow means a happy heart. Polyphenol, which protects the cells and helps in premature aging is also responsible in reducing bad cholesterol in the body, prevent possible arteries’ blockages.
7. When you smile, cacao smiles with you
According to researches, the theobromine found in cacao beans is very effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay. This type of compound has an antibacterial agents that is also responsible in preventing plaque.
8. Get Gutsy
The good fats, fibres, and magnesium found in raw cacao has been shown to help prevent constipation and help with the overall health of the gut.
9. Lose It
Raw cacao is an excellent source of good fat and it can also help in improve metabolism, so if weight loss is a goal, then cacao could help.. In fact, it is noted in several studies that those who regularly consume cacao actually have lower BMIs that those who don’t.
10. Soothe It
A recent UK study performed by the British Lung Foundation discovered that the theobromine found in cacao beans was quite effective at treating persistent coughs. Next time you are under the weather, try a cup of Hot Chocolate made with nutrient-rich cacao and see if that does the trick.
Want to try a recipe out for yourself?
Here’s a very simple raw cacao recipe that you make with just a few simple ingredients. These bites are ready in 5 minutes and you can make them in batches, so that you’ll have something to munch on when you’re craving something sweet and chocolate-y.
We’ve adapted this recipe from Simple Vegan Blog
1 cup almonds
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
2 tbsp raw cacao
Pop the walnuts into a food processor and pulse until you get a crumbly mix. Add the dates, rice malt syrup and cacao and pulse again until well combined. Once you have a sticky texture, form the mix into balls and place on a lined tray. Pop into the fridge for about an hour.
You can store these balls in an airtight container and enjoy them for up to a week!