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Health Benefits of Raw Cacao

It has been said that chocolate fixes everything, Discover the health benefits of the world’s favorite food when in its raw cacao form.

cacao_cocoa_bean_pod_plant_picNot all chocolates are created equal. Some are even bad for you. But, the good news is that the right kind of chocolate is in fact so beneficial for our health, it is actually coined by many as a superfood. If you or someone you love has a love for chocolate, the key is to reach for the health-promoting, nutritious variety.

Cacao is the raw, whole form of chocolate, while cocoa is the processed form Traditional chocolate today tends to come from poor quality cacao bean sources. The cacao bean is picked before it is ripe, one of the reasons for the bitter flavor of most unsweetened cocoa powders. When the bean is picked before it’s fully ripe, not only will the bitter taste be increased, which means that higher amounts of sugar will be required to make it palatable, but the levels of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants will be decreased.

Once the unripe bean is picked, it then should be put through a fermentation process. Doing so will prevent the cacao from spoilage and from growing mycotoxins. When unfermented cacao beans are traditionally processed, damaged, or mishandled, the cacao beans can get a fungal growth that can be toxic to the body and can continue to grow even when being stored. Because of this, the source and the quality of the cacao bean used and consumed should be of the best quality. Common chocolate products on our shelves today, even some that are found at some health food stores, do not come from the highest quality beans and have not undergone proper processing, and therefore can result in some fungal growth.

In addition to this, common commercial chocolates are loaded with a number of harmful and addictive ingredients such as an abundance of unhealthy sugar, poor quality fats, highly processed flours, unnatural emulsifiers and preservatives. All of these ingredients have far reaching and negative effects on our health and can put the body in a state of deficiency, illness, and eventually, disease.

Instead, however, if the right kind of chocolate is consumed, there can be a number of positive health benefits! The right kind of chocolate is a raw, dark chocolate, technically still called cacao, that comes from a high quality source, picked when it is fully ripe, and has undergone the proper fermentation process. Furthermore, it is important to choose a cacao (chocolate) product that only includes natural ingredients, such as a raw sugar. Even if the cacao comes from the best source, if it is then highly processed and has less-than-optimal ingredients added to it, much of the benefit will be lost.

cocoa_cacao_bean_pod_picOnce a truly quality cacao product has been obtained, the health benefits can be many! One of the main benefits that can be seen from this version of chocolate is its antioxidant capacity. The exact antioxidant strength of raw cacao beans varies between sources, but all of the sources agree that raw cacao is one of the strongest antioxidant foods known to man. This is very important because we live in a world where we are bombarded with toxins, poor quality foods, stress, and other things that fuel and feed inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress and inflammation are two things that are particularly linked with a huge number of health problems that are common today, ranging from muscle and joint pain, to digestion problems, to obesity, to cancer. Taking care to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress is one of the key ways to maintain optimal health and prevent disease. Therefore, the strong, antioxidant power that comes from raw cacao can be a very effective way to maintain your health!

Raw cacao is also high in the mineral magnesium. This is particularly important for us today, as many Americans tend to be incredibly deficient in this very essential mineral. Magnesium is one of the most vital minerals in our body. It has quite a few critical roles in the body. In fact, magnesium is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body! Magnesium is necessary for regulation of our heartbeat. It is a component of heart health and helps in the following ways:

  • Maintain normal nerve and muscle function,
  • Support a healthy immune system,
  • Regulate blood glucose levels
  • Increase energy production
  • Maintain strong bones.

cocoa_includes_the_amazing_mineral_magnesium_picWithout magnesium, we would quickly die! Raw cacao is a delicious way of getting this crucial mineral!

In addition to magnesium, raw cacao can also provide a number of other necessary and essential nutrients include vitamins A, B, C, E, and the minerals calcium, zinc, copper, iron, and phosphorus, as well as healthy omega fats, soluble fiber, enzymes, and health-promoting phytonutrients. All of this from some enjoyable cacao! These nutrients help to support and boost a number of systems of the body, including the cardiovascular system, the muscles and joints, as well as the nervous system and digestive system. A huge number of health complaints can be prevented by boosting the function of these systems.

The message is simple. Rather than promoting illness and disease with ones highly processed, junk food chocolate, instead, promote their wellness and longevity by giving them a raw, healthy source of chocolate that will taste good and make them feel good!

Make some great pudding with this cacao recipe!

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