Cacao or Cocoa?
The studies that boast of chocolate’s amazing health benefits are not referring to your average store-bought chocolate bar. The chocolate that they’re referring to is raw cacao.
Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter).
Cocoa looks the same but it’s not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.
What are the health benefits of raw cacao?
- Lowers insulin resistance.
- Protects your nervous system: Cacao is high in resveratrol, a potent antioxidant also found in red wine, known for its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier to help protect your nervous system.
- Shields nerve cells from damage.
- Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Reduces your risk of stroke.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- Boosts your mood: Cacao can increase levels of certain neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well-being. And the same brain chemical that is released when we experience deep feelings of love – phenylethylamine – is found in chocolate.
- It is rich in minerals: Magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.
At the same time, we aren't saying don't enjoy your occasional square of dark chocolate, but if you want to choose one ingredient that has more health benefits - then cacoa will win every time.