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The Health Benefits of Cacao

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Cacao has become somewhat of a superstar in the raw food craze of today’s health food movement. Its high status is only deserving for a food that Mayan and Aztec cultures are said to have believed was a “gift from the gods,” after all. But the fanfare is not based on reputation alone, as cacao bestows unto its devotees a plethora of potential health benefits.

The Origins of Cacao

The Theobroma cacao, or cacao tree, grows fruit, inside of which are beans. From the beans, powdered cacao and cacao nibs (crushed beans) are produced. These products are raw, unprocessed and good for you!

Alternatively, the beans can be washed, roasted and processed to produce cocoa. As this chart illustrates, the processing changes the product considerably.

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Health Benefits of Cacao

Cacao is certainly a gift to humankind, both for its gratifying taste and health benefits. Thanks to its antioxidants (which are at higher levels than green tea and red wine), theobromine, fiber, essential fatty acids, phenylethylamine, anandamide and other constituents, raw cacao has been linked to these potential health benefits:

  • Supports heart function and health
  • Promotes digestive enzyme production
  • Helps maintain a healthy rate of blood flow
  • Protects tissue from free radical damage (aging and disease)
  • Supports mood
  • Discourages tissue irritation and swelling
  • Supports satiation
  • Discourages plaque buildup and artery wall thickening
  • Supports healthy blood pressure levels
  • Stimulates the central nervous system
  • Supports digestion
  • Discourages menopause and PMS symptoms
  • Supports healthy cholesterol levels already within a normal range
  • Aids memory and brain health
  • Supports health and function of blood vessels

(Source)

Nutritional Information

The cacao bean consists of:

  • 54% Fat (Cocoa Butter)
    • 34% oleic acid
    • 33% stearic acid
    • 26% palmitic acid
    •   6% other
  • 31% Carbohydrates
    • 1% sugar
    • 16% fiber
  • 11% Protein
    • arginine, glutamine, leucine
  • 3% Polyphenols
    • flavanols, proanthocyanins
  • <1% Minerals
    • iron, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, potassium, copper

(Source)

Important Note: Much like chocolate (the processed bean), this raw product should be consumed in moderation. When trying it for the first time, be conscious of how your body reacts as some people have sensitivities to it.

5 Easy Ways to Start Using Cacao Nibs

Watch as Laura Thomas from Happy Sugar Habits gives you ideas for using this “gift from the gods”  in your daily life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkeATP5ruwY

 

earth-circle_organic-cacao-nibs-16oz_main_225x225You can get these Organic Balinese Cacao Nibs from Earth Circle Organics here at Natural Healthy Concepts with free domestic shipping!

How do you use raw cacao? Please share your ideas and tips in the comments below!

Check back for more Food for Thought articles featuring health benefits of all sorts of nutritious and delicious foods.

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