There’s few who can say they don’t enjoy a piece of chocolate or two. At DOMU we greedily devour the stuff – as well as the headlines that assure us of chocolate’s many health benefits.
We so much want to believe that our favourite sweet treat could be good for us. But is it likely? Milk chocolate is a no-go (too sugary) and we’ve long heard that white chocolate isn’t really chocolate (sigh). Only darker, bitter chocolate comes up trumps.
Rich in antioxidants, nutrients and minerals, good dark chocolate – with a cocoa percentage of 70 or more – is good for the heart, circulation and brain.
But is dark chocolate the real winner – or is it cacao?
Cocoa Vs Cacao
We’re all familiar with cocoa, but perhaps less so with cacao. The purest form of chocolate, cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. Cocoa, on the other hand, is made from roasting raw cacao at high temperatures. Whilst the end result may look strikingly similar – the differing processing methods leave cocoa and cacao worlds apart.
The high temperatures needed to create cocoa, change its molecular structure; reducing its nutritional value. Whilst it does retain some of its nutrients, there’s no comparison to cacao.
Packed full of minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, potassium, iron and manganese; cacao has more antioxidants than acai, goji berries and blueberries. It’s considered, by some, as the most antioxidant-dense food on the planet.
Health Benefits of Cacao
Whilst information can change thick and fast depending on the latest study, there’s a long list of health benefits associated with regular and moderate consumption of cacao (or raw chocolate, as its increasingly becoming known).
Just some of the benefits of eating cacao are:
- Helps protect your nervous system
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Helps reduces blood pressure
- Guards against toxins and helps repair damage caused by free radicals
- May reduce the risk of certain cancers
- Boosts your mood and helps promote a sense of wellbeing
- It can improve memory loss – and vision
- Lowers insulin resistance
Whilst other factors will always come into play – such as a person’s overall diet and genetic predisposition – cacao can be a great addition to your diet – as well as help keep chocolate cravings at bay.
How to Enjoy Cacao
In comparison to its heat-treated cousin, cacao is bitter. Without sugar or sweeteners, cacao is far from the chocolatey-taste we know and love. It has an intense flavour that will take some getting used to. However, with a few additions, cacao can easily become a staple in your diet.
Available raw, as a powder, butter or nibs (chopped raw cocoa beans that look a bit like chocolate chips), you can substitute cacao for chocolate or cocoa easily.
Just switch in cacao when you make hot chocolate, brownies, chocolate cake or smoothies. To add sweetness, just add small amounts of raw honey or other natural sweeteners. Once you get going, it’s easy to add to meals, especially desserts and treats.
Plus, making your own raw cacao chocolates is simple, just try our 3 ingredient recipe.