Raw cacao (Theobroma cacao) is known as the ‘Food of the Gods’. Raw cacao, made from the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree, is chocolate in its purest and natural form. Raw organic cacao is exceptionally rich in antioxidants and is packed with phytochemicals and important nutrients that have been found to support good health and prevention of chronic disease.
Cocoa is different to raw cacao. Cocoa refers to cacao beans that have been roasted and processed. Raw cacao has higher antioxidant levels compared to cocoa due to it being raw and unprocessed.
Here are 5 reasons why you should be including this ancient superfood in your daily diet.
PROTECTION FROM HEART DISEASE:
Raw cacao has some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any known food. Raw cacao contains potent antioxidants called polyphenols that help neutralise damaging free radicals in the body and reduce the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease. Raw cacao has many impressive health benefits including being protective of the heart and cardiovascular system. These polyphenols can prevent bad ‘LDL’ cholesterol from clogging up arteries, and can lower total cholesterol. They can also help reduce blood pressure.
Raw cacao also contains several minerals that are important for vascular function including magnesium, potassium and calcium, which help reduce the risk of hypertension and atherosclerosis.
BALANCE BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS:
Including raw cacao in the diet can also help keep your blood sugar levels balanced due to it being one of the richest sources of magnesium and chromium. Raw cacao is a healthy addition to the diet for diabetics and for people on weight loss programs. Bodhi Organic Hot ChocolaTEA contains both cinnamon and raw cacao. Cinnamon is another well-known blood sugar balancing herb which also adds natural sweetness to this healthy hot chocolate.
NATURAL MOOD BOOSTER:
Raw cacao is considered a mood boosting food. Cacao contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical that’s created in the brain when you’re in love. It has a natural anti-depressant effect and can help lift your mood and increase focus and alertness. Cacao also contains theobromine a naturally occurring phytochemical (also found in tea) that boosts endorphins, your brains pleasure chemicals. These are the same chemicals that are released when you exercise. Endorphins help reduce anxiety and gives you a sense of wellbeing. You will also get a good dose of tryptophan from raw cacao, which is an amino acid that the brain needs to make serotonin, your 'feel good' hormone that influences your mood.
Consuming raw cacao is actually beneficial for the skin too. Raw cacao is abundant in super antioxidants resveratrol and flavonoids, and complexion loving nutrients such as vitamin C and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Flavanoids and resveratrol have been found to help slow down the ageing process by protecting collagen from the sun’s harmful UV rays. These antioxidants can also help improve blood flow to the skin, which increases the delivery of oxygen and important skin nutrients, resulting in healthy glowing skin. Daily consumption of these potent antioxidants is recommended to provide effective skin protection.
PLANT-BASED IRON SOURCE:
Raw cacao is also abundant in iron. This important mineral is needed for red blood cell production, healthy energy levels and a strong functioning immune system. You also need good iron levels to support your emotional health as iron is required for serotonin production.
HOW TO INCLUDE RAW CACAO IN YOUR DIET:
Here’s some simple and delicious ways to add raw cacao to meals.
- Add a spoonful of organic raw cacao to your next smoothie. Try a nutritious smoothie made with almond milk, a frozen banana, spoonful of almond butter and raw cacao, Medjool date, hemp seeds and some coconut yoghurt.
- Add raw cacao to protein balls, raw desserts, healthy muffins, cakes, cookies and slices.
- Try adding raw cacao to porridges, bircher muesli, or make your own healthy cacao granola.
- Make a delicious healthy hot chocolate with raw cacao, coconut milk, cinnamon and some raw honey or coconut nectar. Bodhi Organic Hot ChocolaTEA has all the goodness of organic raw cacao, with added cinnamon, medicinal mushrooms and adaptogenic herbs. Or add some raw cacao to your next chai or coffee.
BUY ORGANIC + FAIR-TRADE:
Buy organic, fair-trade raw cacao. Buying fair-trade raw cacao will help to make cacao farming more sustainable so that farmers can better provide for themselves and their families. It helps secure better working and trading conditions, and ensures that farmers are getting a fair price for their cacao beans. Buying organic raw cacao which has been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, is much better for your health and the environment, helping reduce the environmental impact of cacao farming and preserving valuable ecosystems for future generations.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.