Cacao: a powerhouse superfood packed with benefits
Cacao (pronounced Ca-COW) is a raw derivative from the cacao bean…a plant mostly found in West Africa and South America.
It is estimated that nearly 3.6 billion tons of cacao are produced annually. A large portion of the cacao is grown in native communities where wages are low and poverty is a big issue, so it’s important to choose fair trade products.
Cacao VS Cocoa
Although they may seem the same there are quite a few differences between cacao and cocoa. Cacao is raw, unprocessed, and contains high levels of antioxidants. On the other hand, cocoa frequently has added sugar and is often highly processed under a high heat. This process strips it from all the benefits, minerals and nutrients the raw version contains. Having one of the highest levels of antioxidants, cacao has anti-aging properties, protects from heart disease and decreases free radical damage in the body. Importantly, cacao also inhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
Cacao is rich in important minerals
It has been shown the magnesium levels found in cacao are some of the highest (beneficial for muscle relaxation and heart health). Not only is cacao rich in magnesium, it also contains more calcium per gram than cow’s milk. It is also high in chromium (which is vital for blood sugar balancing) and iron (needed for the formation of red blood cells).
Cacao for a better mood
This superfood contains an endorphin commonly known as the “love drug” or phenylethylamine, which has been associated with improving mood and increasing energy. It interacts with dopamine in the brain to trigger the brains reward system. Some studies have shown that cacao may also be helpful in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression in some individuals.
Healthy and easy ways to incorporate cacao into your diet:
My fave Hot Cacao recipe (gf, df)
- 1 cup Rebel Kitchen ‘whole mylk’
- 2 heaped tbsp raw cacao (try our OWN range)
- 1 tsp Superfeast reishi mushrooms
- 1 tsp of raw honey, Jimalie coconut sugar, or maple syrup
- *Optional- 1 tsp Jimalie MCT oil
Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan on the stove and whisk over a low heat until it’s warm. If you whisk hard enough this milk froths up well!
Cacao is also a great addition to smoothies!
Mix with a range of different fruits and flavours, .
My 2 favourites are:
- frozen banana, peanut butter, cacao, vanilla protein and almond milk
- frozen banana, frozen berries, cacao, vanilla protein and coconut milk
For more delicious recipes visit our recipe pages here.
By Danielle Reed ~ Flannerys Nutritionist
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