All chocolate as we know it comes from cacao beans. Cacao beans are the seeds that are found in the fruit of the cacao tree. Cacao contains extraordinary health properties and it’s just one ingredient - raw and pure - no sugar, no dairy, no additives.
Do not confuse raw cacao powder with commercial cocoa powder, the latter is processed, filled with sugar and dairy, and has none of its original health benefits. Quit commercial cocoa and opt for raw, organic cacao powder.
Cacao’s benefits are many, and therefore it can be considered more than food, a potent medicine.
- Cacao is extremely antioxidant, ranking amongst the top antioxidant foods in the world, which is known to prevent health-related conditions. This makes it a food worth adding to your longevity strategy.
- Cacao increases blood flow to the brain and enhances its function which can be extremely helpful for older people or in situations of poor sleep and/or fatigue.
- Cacao appears to be the number one source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, supports the heart, builds strong bones, increases flexibility, relaxes muscles, prevents constipation and menstrual cramps.
- It also contains considerable amounts of iron and manganese which together keep your blood healthy.
- Zinc is another essential trace mineral found in cacao and its critical to the proper functioning of the immune system, liver, pancreas and skin.
- Cacao also contains an adequate amount of vitamin C.
- Cacao appears to be a natural appetite suppressant which can contribute to weight loss.
- It is a powerfull mood enhancer due to elevated amounts of the essential amino acid tryptophan and the tryptamine serotonin, both of which make you feel really good.
- Note: Contrary to popular belief, cacao is extremely poor in caffeine.
To preserve and obtain all this wonderful properties cacao must be eaten raw. Most of its vitamins, minerals, compounds, antioxidants, proteins and fats are heat sensitive, which means they are lost when the cacao is heated (this is why commercial chocolate does not contain these qualities).
What to buy
Look for 100% raw, organic cacao products:
* Preferably purchase 'fair trade' to be sure that your chocolate was not the product of slave labor.
Cacao products are widely available. You can find them in most health food stores, some grocery shops, whole foods, or even the internet.
How to use it
Raw cacao smells and tastes strongly of chocolate but slightly bitter so I recommend adding a little honey or maple syrup to sweeten it.
Cacao combines heavenly with cinnamon, vanilla and medicinal mushrooms (chaga or reishi).
Cacao products can generally be blended into any beverage, from coconut water, tea and smoothies to coffee.
Add cacao powder to smoothies, raw desserts and energy balls. Use it to make a healthy nutella or a typical hot chocolate.
Cacao nibs are used as healthy chocolate chips. Add to smoothies and energy balls for extra crunch and texture. Delicious sprinkled over smoothie bowls, desserts, yogurt and granolas. You can also add them to a trail mix of your favorite nuts and dried fruits.
Cacao butter is typically used to make your own chocolates/bars. Also possible to use it in raw treats and desserts. It can also be used to make a homemade body butter.
Fun Fact: Because of it's incredible value and reverence cacao beans were used by Mayans and Aztecs as money instead of gold. It was considered the currency of the realm, while gold was used for decorative purposes.