Thought that your healthy meals had to consist only of food that tastes like cardboard? Wrong. Learn 6 Reasons To Add Cacao To Your Diet!
What is Cacao?
You’ve probably heard the name before. It’s where all of our chocolate products are derived from. The seeds of Cacao plant are what makes up this special ingredient. It is known as ‘The food of the gods’ as translated from its original name Theobroma cacao. Cacao grows in large clusters on the tree’s trunks. These trees can be found in exotic parts of the world, specifically South America, and Africa. Cacao is the purest form of chocolate that can be found. Raw cacao is made by a process of cold pressing the unroasted seeds, therefore preserving the nutrients and enzymes inside.
Not to be confused with cocoa, which is the version where the seeds are roasted at high temperatures, then ground into a fine powder, where the nutrients and enzymes are reduced. This is why studies on chocolates health benefits can be confusing. Many people are being led to believe that all those chocolates at the store are going to give you some sort of benefit, which is part of the problem. The truth is that most of these processed products contain little to no healthy ingredients, and lots of unhealthy ones; most of them don’t have the raw cacao you’d hope for. Sure, processed cocoa tastes good in hot chocolate, cakes, and brownies, but you won’t be improving your health, although it’s not bad for you either.
What exactly are the health benefits?
1. High In Antioxidants
Compared to black tea, green tea, red wine, or processed chocolate; cacao has the highest antioxidant levels, and benefits for health. These antioxidants can positively impact cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, increasing blood flow, decreasing inflammation and blood glucose levels (1). Cacao has up to 20 times the antioxidant levels of blueberries! All these antioxidants are protecting your body from the notorious free radicals that damage your cells, and cause chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer (2).
2. Can Prevent Premature Aging
Because it shares some of the same antioxidants as red wine and green tea, it also has the same effect on aging, except magnified several times. Since its healthy in moderation, have a glass of red wine with your raw cacao chocolate to put a halt on premature aging. Increased blood flow makes your skin glow!
3. Keep Diabetes In Check
Yes, you read that right. A dessert ingredient that actually balances your blood glucose levels and keeps them in check (3). It may also relieve inflammation that occurs when insulin signaling pathways are over worked and stressed out. Sounds like a good start when trying to cut back on the processed desserts that cause type 2 diabetes in the first place.
4. Reverse Effects of Insomina
If you’re like most people in the modern era, sleep has become much more difficult to come by lately. Flavanol rich chocolate acutely improves the functioning of arteries and working memory, therefore effectively countering the negative impact of sleep deprivation in healthy people (4).
5. Improve Cognitive Performance
Recently is has been discovered that the flavanols in cacao could have some major neuroprotective benefits, such as preventing cognitive decline, and increasing general cognitive functioning, attention span, processing speed, and working memory (5). This means you could be preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke if used regularly.
6. Reduces stress and depression
Your brain gets a benefit from neuroprotective antioxidants, which also can give you a boost in your mood, and decrease stress levels (6, 7). Imagine yourself taking a piece of raw chocolate for depression instead of pharmaceuticals. Sounds like a prescription we’re willing to give a shot.
How can I use Cacao?
Add To Smoothies
Add a couple spoonfuls to your shake after a workout and make it taste like chocolaty goodness. Also sprinkle on top of your favorite smoothie bowl to pack on the antioxidants.
Drink Dark Chocolate Milk
Add a couple tablespoons to any milk except from a cow. Why? Research shows that it neutralizes some of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes of cacao.
Eat A Raw Chocolate Bar
Raw Cacao chocolate is much lower in sugar, and surprisingly delicious as we can attest. You may never go back to the cheap processed chocolate again. Makes a great snack combined with fruit and nuts.
Use In Baked Goods
Brownies and cakes just got healthier for you. Bet you didn’t see that coming.