Cacao is raw which means that it has not been heat treated. It is made by fermenting (similar to coffee) and pressing unroasted cacao beans, therefore its nutritional benefits are still intact. Because of the minimal heat used in the processing of cacao powder, it retains its natural light brown colour and original flavour profile, tasting darker and more bitter than cocoa.
The health benefits of cacao are vast and include:
- A high antioxidant status – cacao is packed with antioxidants which help to protect your cells against damage by free radicals, slowing the ageing process.
- Boosts cognition and lifts the mood due to its main flavonoid epicatechin.
- Its flavanols reduce blood pressure and improve blood vessel function.
- Lowers insulin resistance due to its epicatechin content, improving insulin signaling and modulating glucose production.
- Protects the heart due to its high flavanol content and antioxidant activity.
- Because cocoa is cacao which has been put through the process of being roasted at high temperatures it contains none of the health benefits listed above.
Cacao is rich in nutrients and is a source of:
- Magnesium: Cacao is one of the highest food sources of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential alkalising mineral, it benefits the musculoskeletal system (relaxing our muscles), benefits the nervous system (calming), builds strong bones.
- Iron: Cacao is a source of iron. Iron is essential for healthy oxygen levels in the blood.
- Calcium: Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your body also need calcium to help function properly.
- Phenethylamine: Phenethylamine (PEA) is found in abundance in cacao playing a role an increasing focus and alertness. PEA is the adrenal-related chemical that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love. This is likely one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep connection.
- Zinc: Zinc plays a critical role in immune system function, enzyme function, liver, pancreas, and skin health.
- Copper: Copper belongs among essential trace minerals group. In the body copper is essential component of many enzymes crucial for iron metabolism and enzymes which are involved in antioxidant mechanism.
- Manganese: Manganese assists iron in the oxygenation of the blood and formation of haemoglobin, the formation of connective tissue, bones, hormonal production.