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The Incredible Benefits of Raw Cacao & How to Pick the Best Kind

You don’t have to say no to chocolate! The right kind of chocolate is incredibly delicious and satisfying, and it boosts health!

Love is in the air around this time of year, as many celebrate the Valentine holiday. Even for those not celebrating, it’s a good excuse to eat a little extra of everyone’s favorite treat…chocolate. While many people consider their chocolate a guilty pleasure that should be minimized to prevent getting fat or unhealthy, the truth is that selecting the right kind of chocolate can not only be incredibly delicious and satisfying, but it boosts health!

What Is The Right Kind Of Chocolate?

If you wish to experience all the health benefits of chocolate so that you can eat it guilt-free, it’s necessary to get the right kind. By right kind, we’re referring to unprocessed, raw cacao. First, most commercial chocolate on the market today comes from lower quality sources of cacao beans that are lower in nutrients and often can contain contaminants.

The bigger problem comes when they take these cacao beans and put them through heavy processing. The harsh processing techniques used to make conventional chocolates, chocolate bars, and candy bars destroys the elements that boost health. The result is a food that’s much lower or devoid of any true nutritional value. Once the processing is done, the food is referred to as cocoa. When you see the word cacao, this means that you’re dealing with raw or unprocessed chocolate. Cocoa refers to the processed or heated version of cacao.

As if the processing wasn’t enough, most conventional brands of chocolate then go on to add unhealthy ingredients to the chocolate, such as white sugar, flavoring chemicals, unhealthy fats, dyes, preservatives and more. The result, while it might taste good, is something that’s likely to make you sick as well as fat.

So, the right kind of chocolate is referring to chocolate how nature intended it, which is cacao. Cacao, ideally from raw and organic sources, is unprocessed and contains the healthful elements our body needs. While we won’t get into all the differences here, there are three different main cacao beans, all of which differ in quality. The highest quality bean is known as Criollo.

In addition to choosing a high quality bean (or choosing a brand that uses the highest quality cacao), it’s also ideal to choose a brand that has properly fermented. Beans, including cacao and coffee beans, are susceptible to mycotoxin growth, which is a fungus. These mycotoxins aren’t visible, nor can you likely taste or smell them, but they can cause inflammation and gut problems. The growth of these mycotoxins halts when the cacao bean is properly fermented. Discovering if the company properly ferments the bean will likely take a bit more digging than just looking at the ingredient label, but true chocolate connoisseurs can taste the difference in the flavor.

If raw cacao isn’t available to you, or it’s too bitter for you at first, then try to remember that the darker the chocolate, the better.

Questions to Ask When Choosing the Best Cacao

  • Is it raw?
  • Is it organic?
  • Is it non-GMO?
  • Is it an heirloom bean from a single source?
  • Is it sustainable and environmentally friendly?
  • Are there any other ingredients, and if so, are they whole and natural?
  • Ideally is it a Criollo variety?
  • Has it been properly fermented, and what manufacturing processes have been used?

When you are careful to choose the right kind of chocolate, you’re doing a great deal of good for your body! Raw cacao is delicious as well as nutritious. In fact, raw cacao is so incredible that it was even deemed to be the food of the Gods!

Top Health Benefits of Raw Cacao

  • Rich in antioxidants (up to 40x the amount found in blueberries), which helps with a long list of things from repairing cellular damage to preventing aging to cancer prevention
  • Highest plant source of iron
  • Very high in magnesium, which is the master mineral that most Americans are deficient in; magnesium is essential for nearly 300 roles in the human body
  • High in calcium to boost bone health and the body’s electrical system
  • Elevates mood and acts as an anti-depressant
  • Boosts serotonin, the happy feel good chemical
  • Contains a good amount of sulfur for hair, nail, and skin health
  • Helps lower high blood pressure and can protect the heart from cardiovascular disease due to its antioxidants and high levels of minerals such as magnesium

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