Raw Cacao is unprocessed and raw food derived from cacao beans, the same beans that make chocolate. Cacao is a natural source of an array of minerals and nutrients. Cacao beans are made from a plant called Theobroma cacao, which is native to Central and South America and Mexico. The tree grows cacao pods and each pod usually contains between 40 and 60 cacao seeds. Once the pods are harvested, the seeds are collected and usually undergo a drying and fermentation process. Once this process is complete, raw cacao beans are the result. When these raw cacao beans are roasted, they form cocoa. The high nutrient content, including cacao’s fragile antioxidants, diminishes during this roasting process. This is why unprocessed, raw cacao is highly beneficial, compared to regular cocoa.
Where does Chocolate come from?
Our beloved chocolate is made from cocoa when mixed with sugar, milk products and other ingredients. The heat that is involved in the roasting process to create the cocoa, actually strips away all the nutrients from the cacao beans. The result? A sweet, processed dessert that lacks all of nature’s nutrients.
Health Benefits of Raw Cacao
Raw cacao contributes to an array of health benefits, which is why it’s considered a superfood. It contains minerals, vitamins (especially Vitamin C), essential fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants and more.
Raw cacao promotes a healthy cardiovascular and circulatory system, as the different components of cacao help to strengthen and expand our blood vessels, improve blood flow and helps to lower blood pressure. As noted above, cacao contains fibre and as we all know, fibre helps digestion and overall intestinal health. Cacao also contains various elements, which include alkaloids, amino acids, proteins, and enzymes, which all help to improve both mental and physical health. One alkaloid that I want to emphasize on is theobromine. Theobromine is a bitter compound which resembles caffeine in it’s physiological effects. It’s known as a diuretic and a stimulant, however it does not induce tremors and other shakiness that caffeine can cause. Theobromine’s effects widens our blood vessels which helps lower blood pressure. Theobromine is found in tea leaves and other plants, but mainly in cacao. Unfortunately, dogs metabolize theobromine at an extremely slow pace, which can be fatal. Never feed your dogs chocolate in any form. Be extra cautious when handling cacao around your pets, and be sure to check the floor for any spills.
The high antioxidant content helps to boost our immune system and deter free radicals from damaging our tissues and cells. It has been said that cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants than any other food in the world. The antioxidant content in cacao is higher than green tea, red wine and berries. These antioxidants are extremely important for our health, since they improve the functioning of our cells and contribute to proper detoxification and immunity.
Raw cacao should be considered a mineral supplement as it is a good source of magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, chromium and more. Per every 100g of cacao, it contains over 200mg of magnesium. Magnesium is a vital mineral that is considered one of the most deficient minerals in today’s society. Much like magnesium, many women lack iron, which is a fundamental component in keeping our blood healthy. Manganese, another mineral found in cacao, actually assists iron in the formation of hemoglobin (blood protein), and oxygenation of the blood. Zinc is another necessary mineral found in cacao that is important for a number of different functions, including proper growth, wound healing, healthy liver and skin function (two organs involved in detoxification), healthy immune system and more. Cacao also contains trace elements including chromium. Chromium aids in metabolism, detoxifies our liver, reduces food cravings, wards off infections, protects cell damage and more.
How to Enjoy Raw Cacao
Cacao boasts a rich, chocolatey flavour. It’s bitterness may be too intense for some, which is why cacao is best enjoyed with a natural sweetener or dried fruit.
Raw cacao can be found in powder form, as whole beans, or as cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are small bits that are broken pieces of the whole cacao beans.
These cacao nibs can be added to smoothies, trail mixes, cookies, cakes, muffins, breads, cereals, yogurt, and the list goes on. The powder form can be used to make deliciously, rich (and healthy) chocolate beverages, and it can be used in the place of cocoa powder. Since raw cacao is completely unrefined, it contains no sugars or dairy products, making it a perfect alternative to regular chocolate for vegans and other health conscious individuals.
For all you chocolate lovers our there, you can enjoy raw chocolate regularly, and still reap the benefits without any guilt!
Hi, I’m Melissa. Welcome to Wholesomely Homemade.
This is my food and wellness blog, where I share my boundless love for food and nutrition. Wholesomely Homemade’s goal is simply to share and inspire Read More…