Cacao beans are the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, a small evergreen tree grown in Mexico and South America. Cacao beans are roasted and ground to produce cocoa and, after further processing, are the basis of chocolate. When the beans are dried at low temperature, however, they are called raw cacao beans, which can be consumed whole, broken into pieces called nibs or ground to produce raw cocoa powder. Cacao beans are rich in natural antioxidant compounds with many health benefits.
Cacao has more than 300 phytochemicals, including vitamins, minerals, and dietary nutrients such as: fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. It also has quercetin, flavonoids, flavanols, xanthenes, polyphenols, caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide, among others. It has many uses as a stimulant, antibacterial, antioxidant, and protector of the cardiovascular system.
Can help with preventing Cardiovascular problems:
A study in Australia found daily consumption of dark chocolate to be beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome, including health challenges such as diabetes and obesity. They concluded it could be an effective preventive strategy against cardiovascular problems.
Another study of the effects of dark chocolate on blood pressure and prehypertension subjects found decreased systolic blood pressure after just 15 days of consuming 15 grams per day.
A different study found cocoa polyphenol extract to provide beneficial effects for controlling arterial blood pressure.
Can reduce stress:
Another way chocolate benefits heart health is through stress reduction. In one study, Cocoa polyphenols’ effects on plasma metabolites, hormones, and oxidative stress after exercise were measured and found to increase mobilization of free fatty acids and reduce oxidative stress markers.
Can help the brain:
Cocoa is good for the brain too. Traditional uses include antidepressant, mood leveler, and improvement of cognitive function due to the constituents that influence our neurotransmitters. One study suggests that adding cocoa to a the diet during nutritional recovery reduces damage caused by oxidative stress and helps to restore glutathione levels.
Can boost immunity:
Chocolate has long been thought to boost immunity and improve overall health. A recent study shows a diet enriched with cocoa flavonoids suggests the potential of preventing and treating allergic diseases.
More beneficial to health than teas and red wine:
According to one study, black tea, green tea, red wine, and cocoa are all high in phenolic phytochemicals, such as theaflavin, epigallocatechin gallate, resveratrol, and procyanidin, respectively, which have been extensively investigated due to their possible role as chemopreventive agents based on their antioxidant capacities. Cocoa contained much higher levels of total phenolics and exhibited the highest antioxidant activity. These results suggest that cocoa is more beneficial to health than teas and red wine.
A simple and delicious recipe to enjoy this super food
Ingredients: (makes 12 servings)
- 3 TBSP raw cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 4 TBSP maple syrup
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup Chopped almonds
- Pinch of sea salt
- Mix all ingredients, but chopped Almonds, in a bowl
- Line 12 mini muffin tins with muffin lining
- Pour one spoon of the chocolate mix into each tin
- Add a TSP of chopped Almonds to each tin
- Pour more chocolate mix on top to fill
- Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes
- Remove and enjoy!
Note, you can store the extra chocolates in the fridge.
Stay Happy and healthy