Ways to Incorporate Raw Cacao Into Your Diet And Why You Should
Cacao beans (scientifically known as Theobroma cocoa or cacoa) bring us delicious cocoa drinks and chocolate bars. Originating from Mexico and the Ivory Coast in West Africa, cacao fruits (pods) are appreciated for their kernels (seeds) that can be processed to make raw cacao powder and cacao butter.
Raw cacao is appreciated worldwide not only for its unique taste but also due to the number of science-backed properties potentially useful for a human body.
What is the difference between cocoa and cacao?
Many Americans believe that the terms “cocoa” and “cacao” have the same meaning but different spelling and pronunciation. In fact, raw cacao is prepared by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans. This process allows the preservation of all living enzymes and removing the fats. As a result, you get cacao powder and cacao butter.
Cocoa, in its turn, is made of raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. Hot roasting can change the molecular structure of the cacao bean. This process can reduce the number of healthy enzymes and lower the cocoa powder’s nutritional value.
That is why many nutritionists recommend adding raw cacao powder instead of organic cocoa powder to your foods and drinks. It doesn’t mean that pure cocoa powder is not useful for health, but raw organic cacao powder can offer more antioxidants and enzymes.
Raw organic cacao powder: nutrition facts
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of raw cacao powder (not cocoa) can offer such benefits:
- Calories – 228 Kcal;
- Sugars – 1.75 grams (g);
- Protein -19.60 g;
- Fats -13.70 g;
- Cholesterol – absent;
- Dietary fiber – 37 g;
- Folates – 32 mcg;
- Niacin – 2.185 mg;
- Sodium – 21 mg ;
- Potassium – 1524 mg;
- Calcium – 128 mg;
- Copper – 3.837 mg
- Iron – 13.86 mg
- Magnesium – 499 mg;
- Manganese – 3.837 mg;
- Phosphorus – 734 mg;
- Selenium – 14.3 mcg;
- Zinc – 6.81 mg.
This means that raw organic cacao powder can offer even more nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants if you use it in the raw form. Raw chocolate powder may taste more bitter that milk chocolate, but it can offer multiple healthy benefits compared to cocoa powder with additives.
Health benefits of cacao beans
According to Nutrition-And-You.Com, raw cacao powder and pure cocoa powder can deliver a number of benefits to your health, including:
Cacao powder may improve your mood
Thanks to the components phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide, you may feel better after consuming cacao powder, butter, and nibs. PEA is an adrenal-related chemical that can make you feel more excited in a natural way. This is why cacao may improve your focus and concentration. The endorphin anandamide is naturally produced by the human body after exercising. Cacao may work like natural healthy substitutes of harmful amphetamines that are commonly prescribed for decreasing depression.
Cacao powder and cacao butter can help losing weight
Raw organic cacao powder is better than chocolate with additives for your diet. Raw cacao is rich in chromium, which can regulate blood sugar levels. Another component of organic raw cacao powder is coumarin, which may naturally suppress appetite, have anti-tumor and blood-thinning properties.
Cacao powder and nibs can lower “bad” cholesterol
According to a recent study by the Linus Pauling Institute and posted on Natural News, the numerous flavonoids in raw cacao powder can block the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein – LDL). The blockage of LDL cholesterol can lead to improved blood circulation and reduced risks of heart diseases.
Can lower the risks of cardiovascular diseases
The antioxidants that have been found in raw cacao can help your body maintain normal levels of nitric oxide (NO). NO may produce the toxins that may be bad for your heart. Raw cacao may neutralize these toxins, relax the blood vessels, and lower blood pressure to protect your heart from risk of strokes.
Cacao can protect you from different toxins
Speaking of the neutralization of toxins, cacao powder can repair the damage that may be caused by free radicals. These radicals may cause many illnesses, including some types of cancer. Raw cacao powder may offer more antioxidants per 100 grams than goji, acai berries, and blueberries.
Dr. Josh Axe claims that the most nutritional part of cacao beans is not the powder, but raw cacao nibs that contain the maximum amount of antioxidants. You may also add them to your meals, just like raw chocolate powder.
5 ways of adding raw cacao powder to your diet
Raw cacao powder is quick to digest and can be literally taken on-the-go instead of sodas or energizing drinks. In small amounts, cacao powder, nibs, and butter can be eaten every day in many ways. Use these tips to guide you on how you can add cacao powder to your daily meals:
- Baked goods – puddings, pies, cakes, fudges, and brownies. However, the health properties of raw cacao powder can be reduced after heating in the oven;
- Smoothies and raw desserts – as a natural sweetener;
- Topping – you can add organic cacao nibs to fruit salads, parfaits, and oatmeal;
- Raw cheesecake and hot chocolate drinks – homemade raw chocolate cheesecake and chocolate shakes can only benefit from raw cacao powder;
- Component in granola bars – you can add cacao powder in your homemade granola bars and eat it as a healthy snack.
Is eating organic cacao nibs or powder safe?
According to WebMD, the possibility of allergic reaction to pure cacao beans and the extracted products is extremely rare. However, when mixed with milk and nuts, cacao powder may increase lactose intolerance and peanut allergy. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume no more than 2 cups of cacao powdered drinks or 100 grams of organic cacao nibs.
Cacao powder and nibs can be added to meals for a naturally sweet taste and plenty of health benefits. It is safe and has no cholesterol. Also, raw cacao powder is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients.