This “drink of the gods” originated in the foothills of the Andes and even then, the Inca civilization understood the benefits of cacao!
If you’re a chocolate lover, raw cacao contains almost 4 times more antioxidants than processed dark chocolate, 20 times more than blueberries, and 119 times more than bananas!
Raw cacao and processed chocolate sold in bars and pieces are not the same. Processed chocolate is made with roasted cocoa, sugar, milk, and other ingredients that turn it into a solid food.
Studies have found that adding dairy blocks much of the absorption of the natural nutritious compounds in cacao. The best of the best is found in raw cacao.
If it’s your first time eating cacao, we recommend using naturally fermented raw cacao beans. It intensifies the berry and coffee notes naturally found in chocolate’s flavor. The intense flavor is similar to unsweetened dark cocoa powder or Baker’s chocolate.
If you prefer milk or white chocolate, then you can add raw cacao to smoothies or mix it with other foods to help disguise the stronger taste.
Cacao beans are the whole bean straight from the cacao fruit. Cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been peeled and chopped up. They’re like a crunchy superfood version of chocolate chips (and you can use them as a replacement).Cacao nibs are a crunchy superfood version of chocolate chips and can be used as a replacement! #benefitsofcacaofactsClick To Tweet
Supercharge Your Health with 9 Fabulous Benefits of Cacao
1. Happiness on board. Cacao is one of the healthiest foods you can consume. It contains anandamide, also known as the bliss molecule, which creates a feeling of euphoria.
Another mood-enhancing compound is phenethylamine (PEA), which triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals. They release naturally when you fall in love or during sexual activity. Blue-green algae is the only other food on the planet known to have PEA.
2. Ease mood swings with balanced hormones. One of the best benefits of cacao is that it raises levels of serotonin (the feel good hormone) in your brain. When women are menstruating, their serotonin levels drop dramatically. Cacao causes the release of calming hormones and restores feelings of well-being.
3. Truly a heart-healthy food. The anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidants found in raw cacao may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Cacao contains over 700 compounds (including powerful antioxidant polyphenols) that researchers believe may help reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent hardening of the arteries.
Cacao may also help lower your blood pressure naturally. Several studies have proven the benefits of cacao intake in reducing blood pressure by patients who took a small amount every evening.
4. Improve blood circulation. The Department of Nutrition at University of California – Davis discovered that cacao thins blood and may prevent blood clots. Their findings found that eating raw cacao can be as beneficial as taking an aspirin a day (only tastier).
5. Slow premature aging. Polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants as green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in dark colored fruits) and catechins (found in green tea) protect our cells from premature oxidation or destruction and can keep us looking and feeling younger longer.
6. Healthy weight loss without deprivation. Drinking a cup of hot cacao before meals can help you shed fat. This is due to cacao’s MAO inhibitors (often found in synthetic weight loss products), which shrink appetite. Cacao’s unique MAOs allow more serotonin to circulate in the brain. Like everything, moderation is still important.
7. Raise energy levels and combat fatigue. Cacao has one of the highest concentrations of magnesium found in natural food sources. Magnesium helps to protect against osteoporosis, reduces type II diabetes, and lowers blood pressure.
8. Control blood glucose levels. The antioxidant properties of cacao were also found to reduce insulin resistance and sensitivity in people with impaired glucose tolerance and smokers. Raw cacao isn’t filled with sugar and if you use the recipe I’ve included below, you’ll have a delicious treat that doesn’t upset your blood sugar readings.
9. Lower stress naturally. Not getting enough antioxidants in your diet can have dangerous long-term health consequences – including to your mental and emotional state. A Swiss 2009 study found that in just under two weeks, the benefits of cacao reduced the stress hormone cortisol, improved metabolism, and even improved gut microbial activity.
Not getting enough antioxidants in your diet can impact your mental and emotional state. #benefitsofcacaofacts Click To Tweet
Go for natural raw cacao to get the maximum advantage as a superfood. If you find the taste of cacao too strong, add coconut milk, rice, or nut milk.
Try our easy 3 minute healthy hot chocolate recipe now! It’s super creamy, delicious, and chock full of ingredients your skin is going to love.
History of Cocoa | World Cocoa Foundation. (2017). Worldcocoafoundation.org.
The University of Michigan Health System. (2017). Med.umich.edu.
Coles, T. (2017). Cacao Nibs: Even Better For You Than Dark Chocolate . The Huffington Post .
Dolan, E. (2017). Cocoa polyphenols can increase calmness and contentedness. PsyPost.
Kris Gunnars, B. (2017). 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate. Authority Nutrition.
Hooper, L., Kay, C., Abdelhamid, A., Kroon, P., Cohn, J., Rimm, E., & Cassidy, A. (2017). Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials.
Whiteman, H.,(2017). Daily chocolate intake linked to lower risk of diabetes, heart disease. Medical News Today.
Desideri, G., Kwik-Uribe, C., Grassi, D., Necozione, S., Ghiadoni, L., & Mastroiacovo, D. et al. (2017). Benefits in Cognitive Function, Blood Pressure, and Insulin Resistance Through Cocoa Flavanol Consumption in Elderly Subjects With Mild Cognitive Impairment: The Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study.