Nutritionally speaking there is a difference between raw cacao and cocoa. 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 powder on the other hand 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. On top of that, refined sugars are added to make it palatably sweet, incredibly mourish and leaving our brains craving more. Making portion control challenging.
We know that sugar not only is addictive and that the sugar highs and lows cause our energy to plummet and leave us feeling moody. But sugar also leads to damaging changes in blood lipids (fats) and increased blood cholesterol.
On the other hand, you can get good quality dark chocolate made with raw cacao, sweetened with lower GI natural unrefined sweeteners (such as Stevia) and even made with my all-time favourite coconut oil for added health benefits.
Health is not about depriving ourselves of what we enjoy and its not about calories in vs calories out, but rather how those calories respond inside your body and to what benefits or damage it can do.
Raw cacao health benefits include:
- It is rich in minerals magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese – which also makes raw cacao a woman’s best friend around that time of the month when extra magnesium and calcium in the diet can relieve PMS symptoms!
- It contains far more antioxidants (reservatrol & polyphenol) per 100g than acai, goji berries and blueberries – fighting free radicals and protecting against cancer and aging.
- It improves mood and libido – phenethylamine triggers the release of endorphins to encourage your libido, whilst anandamide helps trigger feelings of happiness.
- It lowers insulin resistance (as opposed to the refined sugar in chocolate which studies have shown to increase diabetes risk).
- It lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and high blood pressure – thanks to the high levels of reservatrol antioxidant which help maintain healthy levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the body, relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure, and even neutralises toxin by products produced by NO, protecting your heart and preventing disease.
On that note I’m off to make a batch of my homemade raw cacao Chocolate Bark.
Raw Cacao Chocolate Bark
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- ¼ cup coconut oil, softened/melted
- ¼ cup cacao butter, melted
- 1-2 tsp coconut blossom sugar
- pinch of fine sea salt
- Melt cacao butter, coconut oil, salt and coconut sugar in a bowl over a saucepan with simmering water, until just melted. Be careful not to overheat.
- Add in raw cacao powder and mix through.
- Pour out onto a small flat baking tray lined with baking paper or chocolate moulds.
- Top with any toppings you like (mine pictured here is pistachio, goji berry, bee pollen & coconut flakes).
- Freeze or refrigerate until set.
Peace, love, happiness xx