In recent years a lot of attention has been given to raw food diet, mainly due to the great health benefits it brings across. A raw food diet, or more famously called raw food-ism, is about consuming unprocessed and uncooked food, thereby not losing the vitamins and minerals that it contains.
With Christmas round the corner, what most of us, especially children, can think of are the yummy and delicious chocolate treats. However, many of us get worried thinking of the cavities and sugar problems that too much of chocolate can land you into. And rightfully so, as majority of what you see on supermarket shelves and on TV commercials are chocolates loaded with processed cocoa and full of refined sugar. However, if you choose dark raw chocolate variety you will do your body a favour as these kinds of chocolates bring actually lots of health benefits. It may surprise you that raw cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed dark chocolate, 20 times more than blueberries, and 119 times more than bananas. Here are some insights into raw cacao powder which is perfect to make all sort of chocolate treats.
So, for the ones who are wondering what is cacao powder – cacao powder is derived from the cacao trees of the tropical regions and majorly from West Africa. The large melon sized fruits from the cacao tree, known as the cacao pods, once ripe, are cut open to get the cacao beans which are further fermented, dried and cleaned to finally process the cacao powder. Both cacao and cocoa powder are derived from the same tree, however, the difference lies in their processing. Cacao is made by cold pressing, natural fermentation, of the cacao beans which keeps the enzymes and natural minerals alive, only removing the fat. Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is made by roasting the beans at high temperatures which makes it loose most of the natural vitamins that it has, making cacao, the purest form of chocolate.
Now, let us look at some of the health benefits of raw cacao powder.
- Cacao contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids which can improve your memory, increase your bliss, reduce heart disease, help to loose weight, and create ample of energy. For that reason, raw cacao is known as a powerful ’superfood’!
- High levels of iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium also make cacao powder an energizer for your body and may help combat fatigue. It has one of the highest concentrations of magnesium and thanks to that it may also help to protect against osteoporosis, reduce type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure.
- Due to the presence of anandamide, known as bliss molecule, raw cacao powder also acts as a mood enhancer, which means it makes you happy.
- Helps to prevent mood swings as it boosts levels of serotonin, the feel good brain chemical.
- Thanks to its chromium content, it helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and can aid in weight management.
- It also contains phenethylamine, which triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals, so it’s known as a natural aphrodisiac.
- It contains flavonols, anti-inflammatory compounds that help maintain elasticity of veins and arteries and protect our heart, reduce the risk of stroke, and help improve blood circulation.
- Raw cacao contains over 700 compounds that help reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent hardening of the arteries.
- Polyphenols antioxidants present in raw cacao can prevent premature ageing thanks to anthocyanincs and catechins that protect our cells from premature oxidation or destruction and can help us feel and look younger for longer.
- Raw cacao powder has ability to help improve kidney function, stimulate bowel function and improve digestion.
- It is a great source of sulfur and helps to keep our hair shiny, nails strong and liver and pancreas in optimum function.
- It contains healthy fats similar to the monounsatured fat found in olive oil.
This Christmas do no restrain yourself, buy raw cacao powder, nibs, beans or ready raw chocolate bar and indulge yourself and your loved ones in the delicious home-made raw chocolate treats. The recipe below shows just one example of an easy to make and delicious chocolate clusters.