The Benefits of Raw Cacao
Cacao is the raw or minimally processed beans, powder, liquor (or paste) that chocolate is made from. Here are five reasons why it's better to seek out organic chocolate
1) It’s good for your heart
Raw cacao is high in flavanols – plant compounds associated with antioxidant activity. The flavanols in cacao are thought to help improve circulation to the heart, and may reduce risk of heart disease by helping to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, reduce blood stickiness and even improve cholesterol levels. Flavanol levels can be greatly reduced when cacao is roasted to make conventional chocolate. Cacao is also rich in potassium, which helps to regulate blood pressure, and magnesium, which is vital for muscle function (our heart is our most important muscle)
2) It’s a natural energy booster
Cacao contains a small amount of caffeine, as well as a compound called theobromine, which has a mild stimulating and energising effect. So having a few pieces of raw chocolate can be a great afternoon pick-me-up without the over-stimulation and jittery feeling you can get from coffee. But what makes cacao the real energy superstar is its high magnesium content: magnesium is essential for your body to make energy, and many of us don’t get enough of it in our daily diet. What’s more, whereas standard chocolate bars can be high in refined sugar that’s quickly absorbed. When choosing chocolate, go for something with unrefined sugars, such as coconut sugar, which provide slow-releasing, sustained energy without the sugar rush.
3) It's good for your skin
Eating flavanol-rich chocolate has been found to help protect our skin against sun damage, as well as improve circulation to the skin, increase skin hydration, and reduce roughness and scaling
4) It supports your fitness goals
The natural energising effect of raw chocolate can be great for a pre-workout boost. The magnesium it contains supports muscle function, aids electrolyte balance and may be beneficial for muscle recovery too. What’s more, the flavanols in chocolate can have an anti-inflammatory effect, which could help to reduce inflammation and support recovery after a workout.
5) It makes you happy
Cacao contains several active substances that may have a positive effect on our mood. One of these is phenylethylamine (PEA) – a natural compound that’s made in our brain. PEA is associated with good mood, and is said to be released in high amounts when we’re in love. Cacao is also rich in minerals such as magnesium and zinc, which help to produce other ‘feel-good’ brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine