I get many funny looks when I tell my health coaching clients that I whole-heartedly endorse a fully stocked chocolate supply in every household. Afterall, it’s one of the most important food groups!
We’ve all heard about the benefits of dark chocolate, but you can get even more nutrition by eating the beans themselves. Raw, unprocessed cacao is one of nature’s best nutrition secrets.
It’s super food with super powers:
- Loaded with tons of magnesium for muscle and nerve function and to stabilize heart rhythms
- More antioxidants and disease fighting properties than red wine or green tea!
- Improves focus and pleasure: cacao stimulates the euphoric neurotransmitters in the brain
- Aids in calcium absorption
- Stabilizes mood swings
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Cacao is one of those elusive ingredients that I’ve dared not used up to this point. Many of my more experienced, sophisticated blog friends use it quite frequently in their dishes. Raw cacao cakes and fancy spelt cookies with cacao nibs – sounds dreamy and all, but my timid self couldn’t possibly brave those wild waters…right?
If you’re in the same boat as I am when it comes to cacao, what do you say we venture into these unchartered waters together and claim some of the delicious bounty for ourselves?
Cacao vs cocoa: For starters, there is a pretty big difference between cacao and cocoa. Cacao (pronounced kuh-cow) is the name of the actual tree that produces chocolate. Its species name is Theobroma cacao, which produces cacao seeds that are then dried and fermented. The end result is what we more commonly know as cocoa, which can then be processed into cocoa powder, cocoa butter or all kinds of chocolate.
In baking you may see a recipe that calls for cacao nibs, which are not as sweet at chocolate chips thus giving the recipe a more sophisticated, healthy appeal.
Health benefits: The health benefits of cacao are more abundant than that of chocolate since it is unprocessed and the vitamins and minerals are preserved in its raw state. Because of this cacao contains much higher levels of antioxidant flavanoids, which are extremely beneficial for fighting free radicals in the body. In fact, according to lifesuperfoods.com cacao contains the most antioxidants of any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, and even black and green teas.
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