I’ve got excellent news. Cacao is actually GOOD for you and it’s here to stay!
Cacao is chock-full (and I mean CHOCK-FULL) of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the cells of the human body to prevent premature aging and disease.
Cacao is particularly rich in polyphenols, known for their beneficial influence on cardiovascular health. In fact, it has been said that out of all known foods, cocoa has the highest antioxidant polyphenol content and hence, provides the best cardio protection by far. Cacao is also apparently known to reduce cholesterol in the blood, improve artery and vein function and can also lower blood pressure.
Cacao to elevate your mood – yes please!
I must admit that I am a bit partial to cacao when I am feeling a bit low. Just following my intuition, although when we delve deeper, we find that there are actually scientifically given reasons why it makes you feel so good. Cacao contains natural mood-elevating, endorphin-stimulating and anti-depressant compounds – most notably serotonin, dopamine, phenethylamine and tryptophan.
What is the difference between raw cacao and cocoa?
Essentially, ‘cacao’ is raw and ‘cocoa’ is roasted. The raw seeds obtained from the Theobroma cacao tree are known as cacao. When these seeds are processed (usually by roasting) the name becomes cocoa. Apart from the slight difference in spelling, it’s commonly believed that raw cacao has a more potent and active blend of nutrients (speculation suggests that is because these nutrients haven’t been destroyed by the roasting process). However, I am not totally sure where these facts originated, because there doesn’t appear to be any scientific research to back it up. I do often go for the raw stuff, although I also equally use pure cocao powder (as long as it is organic, fairly traded and doesn’t contain any additives). Personally I feel there is massive benefit in both raw and non-raw cacao/cocoa.
Science has documented the impressive benefits of cocoa for centuries. That tells me there is certainly benefit from both raw and non-raw forms. The important thing (whether raw cacao or cocoa) is to get it from a supplier that has good ethics, offering it in its pure (pure as in, nothing else added, i.e. 100% cocoa powder), organic form (see my favourite brands below the recipes).
Cacao Smoothie Recipes – 3 delicious and healthy ways
In the following recipe you can use either raw cacao or pure cocoa powder. They work in a glass for sipping or in a bowl to enjoy with a spoon and garnishes.
Where to get good quality cocoa or cacao powder?
UK & Europe: This is my favourite one in the UK by Sevenhills Wholefoods – a company with great ethics.
North America: This is my favourite one in North America. I use this when I am visiting.
Anyway, that’s all for today. I trust that you’ll find something you like and enjoy.