Health Benefits of Cacao
Cacao is derived from the cacao plant, and is the purest form closest to its natural state when it was harvested. This means that it is much less processed, with maximum amounts of antioxidants being contained. Cacao can be consumed in various forms and is very versatile, including raw cacao powder, cacao nibs, smoothie mix, snacks, coffees, and desserts. It is more beneficial to consume dark chocolate than milk chocolate, as there is a much higher raw cacao content. Since cacao is less processed and at a much lower temperature compared to cocoa, it retains its enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients.
Rich Sources of Minerals
Cacao is a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that supports strong bones, teeth, and muscles, as well as maintain blood pressure levels. Since lack of magnesium is often linked to fatigue, anxiety, and irritability, cacao contains a substance called theobromine, which helps reduce these conditions and acts very similar to caffeine as an energy boost. The effects of theobromine actually is lasts longer than that of caffeine.
Cacao is also a source of iron, a mineral that is essential for blood cells functions. It is beneficial for ones with anemic symptoms, hence, preventing symptoms such as fatigue and malaise that results from iron deficiency. Consuming cacao with fruits that are of good sources of vitamin C, maximizes iron absorption.
Cacao contains flavonoids, which are rich in antioxidants that has anti-inflammatory properties. Cacao increases the beneficial form of cholesterol (HDL), hence lowers blood pressure. Antioxidants are excellent in fighting against aging and diseases. In fact, cacao contains 20 times more antioxidants than blueberries. An amino acid found in raw cacao, called arginine, also helps regulate blood pressure and muscle recovery.
Cacao supports the overall well-being as it is considered a mood enhancer, and often known as a “love drug” due to a compound called phenylethylamine. Phenethylamine activates the release of endorphins, which is a chemical released by the brain that makes one feel happy and pleasant. Cacao also contains a compound called anandamide, which has anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties.
Cacao is considered a superfood. It helps increase body metabolism, burn off fat, and suppress appetite.
Source of Fibre
One of the benefits of cacao compared to cocoa is that cacao contains high levels of fibre, at approximately 9 grams. This is very beneficial to our digestive health. The fibre content also maintains healthy bowel movements, preventing constipation.
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