Let's celebrate!! Chocolate is good for us.. well hold on just a minute, cacao is good for us but most commercial chocolates on the market are loaded with refined sugar and some even contain dairy milk and other additives and chemicals to keep the chocolate from melting in warm climate countries. Gross!
If you really want to reap the rewards of chocolate you'd be better off making your own at home and stay tuned because later on in this blog article, I'll share my very own healthy chocolate recipe.
Before we get to that I want to help you understand the many benefits to your health if you add cacao (not cocoa) to your life.
The difference between cacao and cocoa is that cacao is the one that has all the nutrients and cocoa has very little. You see, cocoa has been heated to high temperatures and this destroys much if not all of the nutrients.
As a kid, I knew nothing of cacao, mum only ever used cocoa in all of her baking and I feel like it's really only been in the last 15-20 year that cacao has hit the spotlight so it's not mum's fault she only knew what everyone else knew.
So why is cacao so good for us?
Raw cacao is super high in antioxidants and as you know, we need lots of natural antioxidants found in foods to help fight off the free radicals that age us prematurely and cause disease. In fact, cacao has 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries! That is pretty amazing.
Let's Name Some Potential Health Benefits:
- Cacao is a very high source of plant-based iron so it may be good for vegans and vegetarians
- Raw cacao contains over 300 different chemical compounds
- The natural phytochemicals in cacao are said to lower cholesterol & high blood pressure, improve heart function and help reduce the risk of cancer
- Eating raw cacao may help treat diseases of the bladder, heart, liver and kidneys
Raw Cacao is a Great Source of the following Essential Nutrients:
Antioxidants, carbohydrates, protein, polyphenols, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium. But not only that, it also contains the heart-healthy fat oleic acid, fibre and vitamins E, B2, B1, B3, B5 and B9.
So If you're low on your B's, be sure (pun intended) to add more cacao to your diet!
Did You Know?
Raw cacao contains a compound called Theobromine and this wonderful substance can help to naturally treat depression in humans (not in animals though!)
You've probably heard that dogs shouldn't eat chocolate? Well that is true and the reason for this is because chocolate (just like cacao) contains theobromine and theobromine is toxic for our 4-legged friends. Dogs cannot metabolise this compound but don't worry, we can.
Even the smallest amount of chocolate or cacao can make your pooch sick (upset tummy, diarrhoea or vomiting) so best to avoid giving them any at all!
How Can Cacao Be Used?
- Add a tsp or 2 to your morning smoothie for an extra health kick
- Sprinkle a little over fresh fruit (you'd be surprised how good this can taste) - especially over fruits like banana, pineapple, pear, custard apple, kiwi fruit, strawberries and raspberries
- Add a little cacao, collagen powder and maple syrup to your scrambled eggs for a delicious gut-healing treat!
- Make healthy chocolate brownies and use grated sweet potato or beetroot and use cacao, maple syrup and avocado for the frosting
- Have fun and make you own healthy chocolate truffles; simply add 10 seeded medjool dates, a half cup of raw cashews, 2 tbsp raw cacao, a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom and a tsp of raw coconut oil to a food processor and blend until smooth then roll into balls and roll the balls into the cacao powder
- Hot chocolate never was so good for you until now! Add a tsp of raw cacao, a tsp of organic maple syrup or raw honey (these both contain loads of nutrition), a little cayenne pepper if you like it spicy, and top with hot water and a dash of your favourite milk (I personally love coconut!)
- Homemade raw chocolate (dairy-free) is a breeze and much better for you than store-bought choccies.
- Smoothies are great but when the weather's hot, smoothie bowls are even better! Try my Chocolate smoothie bowl recipe - Gut-healing Jaffa Bowls here.