As if there was a reason we needed to celebrate chocolate, today is World Chocolate Day!
Believe it or not, there are major health benefits to chocolate. But we’re talking raw, real chocolate -- not the kind in the gas station isles.
What Is Raw Chocolate?
Raw chocolate is cacao and contains many vital nutrients. Cacao is chocolate in its most pure, unprocessed form. You can think of it as raw chocolate, straight from the source: the cacao bean.
Cacao is thought to be the highest source of both antioxidants and magnesium in all foods.
It's been used throughout the centuries, among all cultures for health purposes.
Cacao paste -- what looks like chocolate bar chunks, but tastes very different -- is made by fermenting and lightly toasting or sun-drying cacao beans, then peeling the husks (usually by hand) and stone-grinding them down to create a paste which is set into a block.
Nothing added, nothing removed.
Health Benefits of Cacao
In its purest form, cacao lowers insulin resistance, protects the nervous system, shields nerve cells from damage, reduces the risk of stroke, reduces blood pressure, and guards against toxins.
Not to mention the hugely long list of vitamins and minerals in raw cacao:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin E
Cacao vs Cocoa: Big Difference
Don’t confuse the two -- cacao and cocoa are not the same. Cacao is that purest-form chocolate; cocoa is what goes on to make Hershey’s chocolate bars.
Scientifically speaking, cacao refers to the Theobrama cacao bean in its raw state; cocoa refers to the bean once it's been roasted.
Each time the cacao is roasted or processed, those original health benefits get extracted until there are no benefits left.
Truly raw cacao products (cacao beans, cacao nibs, cacao paste, cacao powder, and cacao butter) are monitored during the entire manufacturing process to ensure the temperature is kept below 118˚F/48˚C at all times.
And the minimal processing of raw cacao (compared to the numerous roasts and processes that go into cocoa manufacturing) enables a higher concentration of protective antioxidants.
While ‘chocolate,’ or cocoa, may retain some scant benefits (depending on the kind) it’s usually, more than likely been combined with harmful substances and additives (hello, sugar!) that render the health benefits all but useless.
Where Can I Get Raw Cacao?
As with anything, moderation is key!
Tell us what you end up choosing and what you think! 😋