Dark Chocolate – Raw Cacao

Dark Chocolate – Raw Cacao Share

I have mentioned dark chocolate and cacao in my previous blogs. Let’s look into more detail regarding this lovely food.Cacao originates from the rainforest regions of tropical America. Cacao has about 80% of its constitution in the bark and the remaining 20% includes seeds, pulp and other constituents. As we all know the main use of the cocoa bean is in the production of chocolate.

Raw cacao is prepared with minimal processing so it keeps all its beneficial compounds. Cocoa, on the other hand is taken from the same plant but processed under high heat therefore the benefits are not so profound. Raw Cacao is packed with polyphenols and has been used by indigenous people to improve health for thousands of years. (i) Mayans and Aztecs named raw cacao ‘Food of the Gods’. There are more than 100 medicinal uses of cacao listed throughout ancient manuscript books.

Cacao beans are rich in a number of essential minerals and vitamins, including magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese as well as vitamin A, C and E. Cocoa butter – the fat inside the beans – is also very healthy and beneficial, with a variety of essential fatty acids. It can be used in foods or some skin care.

Polyphenols exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. (ii)

Experts from the University of Nottingham also found that eating chocolate could help to sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills. (iii)

Cacao is a concentrated natural source of one type of flavanoid, called flavanols. (iv) Numerous studies indicate that flavanols may exert significant vascular protection due to the increased nitric oxide bioavailability from cacao and there are studies showing that it also has a positive impact on decreasing high blood pressure. (v)

Cacao can be bought in many different forms and shapes. Many people buy chocolate bars thinking they will get all the good benefits however, some chocolate bars are not healthy! They can be packed with lots of unwanted sugar, vegetable oil and other additives. Therefore, if you buy chocolate, go for quality. It is important to look at the ingredients list and always look out for the higher percentage of cocoa solids, at least 70% and higher.

How to make your own chocolate:

This recipe can be found in Hemsley & Hemsley’s cookbook.

100g cocoa butter

6tbsp raw cacao powder

1 ½ tbsp of maple syrup

1tsp vanilla extract

Then you can add: ¼ tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. You can add orange extract to get orange flavour or peppermint oil or any dried fruits and nuts, nut butter, coconut flakes the list is long…

Melt the cocoa butter in a bain-marie style pot and then add the rest of ingredients.

You can also buy raw cacao nibs in any health food stores and add them to porridge, smoothies, desserts, healthy bars or any dish that calls for the delicious flavour of chocolate.

Benefits of eating good quality dark chocolate or raw cacao:

  • It decreases blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in healthy persons
  • It is rich in vital vitamins and minerals
  • It helps to control blood sugar
  • It Increases blood flow to the brain and heart
  • It improves mood as it contains natural anti-depressant agents
  • It prevents heart diseases
  • It contain antioxidants that can protect cells
  • It reduce stress
  • It reduce sugar cravings

 

Balance is the key.

So remember, everything in moderation!

As cacao is rich in caffeine so do not over indulge 

 

Sources:

  1. https://nuts.com/healthy-eating/cacao-vs-cocoa
  2. Magrone, T. Russo, M. A. Jirillo, E. Frontiers in Immunology. Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28649251 Accessed: 4th March 2019
  1. Miller, D., 2013. Cocoa & Chocolate: Ancient Remedy to Modern Science. Planta Medica 79. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1348519
  2. Grassi, D., Lippi, C., Ferri, C., 2005. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81, 611–614.