5 Benefits of Raw Cacao
5 Benefits of Raw Cacao + Delicious Chocolate Recipes
Chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, chocolate ice cream, chocolate energy balls, chocolate bars. Chocolate comes in a variety of forms. Each one more delicious – and more unhealthy – than the last.
Would you believe us if we told you that the original chocolate bean is actually incredibly beneficial to your health? That it can actually improve your attitude? That it contains essential vitamins that your body craves? and ready for this it’s a fruit!?
Don’t get to excited and get carried away and start scarfing down everything chocolate. The chocolate we are referring to is the raw cacao bean, directly from the tree.
Allow us to introduce you to the magical fruit which is called cacao and the amazing benefits it can do for your mind, your body and your health.
What Is Raw Cacao?
The word “cacao” (pronounced ka-COW) originates from the Spanish language as the first known uses of cacao were in Central America, South America and Mexico. The Olmecs, Mayans, Aztecs and other indigenous people in these areas began using cacao over 5,000 years ago.
The cacao beans were generally crushed and mixed with water to make a bitter drink. Chilies, honey, corn and spices were also sometimes added to create a frothy beverage.
Cacao beans were also commonly used as currency. In fact, when Christopher Columbus came to the Americas, the Aztecs offered him cacao beans in exchange for some of the goods on his ships. As Colombus’ crew had never seen cacao before, you can imagine their confusion.
But later on another conquistador, Hernan Cortez, bravely tried the drink. Although he didn’t like it much at first, he got used to the bitter taste and took some cacao beans back with him to Spain.
And so the seeds were brought to other parts of the world. And now you can find cacao growing in most tropical locations on earth.
Where Does Raw Cacao Come From
Cacao beans, or seeds really, grow in tropical areas near the equator. The cacao tree grows oval shaped pods with an extremely thick and tough skin. Cracking open the pod, you would find the cacao beans covered in a white, soft pulp.
In contrast to the bitter cacao bean, the pulp is actually extremely sweet. It’s not uncommon to pop the bean in your mouth to suck the pulp off it. I tried it myself while in the Amazon and I would highly recommend it.
pHresh Superfoods™ Raw Cacao powder is one of the only single source geographical cacao powders. Whereas majority of the other cacao products are sourced from multiple countries around the world such as the Ivory Cost in Africa, Indonesia, Ghana just to name a few. Whereas pHresh Superfoods™ cacao is organically grown ethically sourced from the Alto Marañón and La Convención y Lares regions of Peru which is located high in the pristine Andes Mountains. Our Cacao Beans are hand selected for the perfect deep indulgent chocolate taste. Our cacao is produced at low temperatures without solvents or chemicals to retain the cacao’s natural nutrients, robust aroma and superfood properties. It is then finely milled into our cacao powder. Our cacao powder is a healthier alternative to today’s conventional over-processed “cacoa”. You can use it for baking, hot chocolate, desserts, smoothies and much more. We take pride in creating this perfectly delicious and nutritious pHresh Superfoods™ Cacao Powder for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
What Is The Difference Between Raw Cacao And Cocoa?
There’s more than just a spelling difference between cacao and cocoa. Although in reality both terms refer to the same ingredient, cacao refers to the fresh, unprocessed version of the bean while cocoa refers to the roasted, processed and commonly powdered or sweetened from of the bean.
This distinction is important to make when discussing the benefits of raw cacao. You may have heard the gossip that’s been floating around about how chocolate has incredible health benefits. Unfortunately this gossip was derived from the known benefits of the raw cacao bean itself, rather than the caramelized, candied and wrapped forms of it.
So it’s good to know that although all forms of chocolate and cocoa powders come from the same tree, the process they go through to get there destroys most of the healthy aspects of the plant.
It has also been shown that over 70% of cacao in the world was grown and harvested by indigenous communities paid low wages, or even by the use of child slaves. So make sure to purchase cacao and chocolate marked as Fair Trade to knock that percentage down!
Why Raw Cacao?
Raw cacao can do incredible things for your health. It’s a great source of antioxidants, it contains essential vitamins and minerals, it’s an amazing mood enhancer and there are endless possibilities of how to include it in your diet!
Here are the top 5 benefits of delicious cacao.
5 Benefits Of Raw Cacao
If you thought blueberries were the kings of antioxidants, think again! Raw cacao has 40 times the amount of antioxidants that blueberries have. Cacao is one of the world’s most antioxidant-rich foods. This is important because antioxidants do wonders for your immune system and help to get rid of any free radicals that you may have hanging out in your body.
- Loads Of Iron
Would you believe raw cacao has 7.3 milligrams of iron per 100 grams? Or in other words, if you take 28 grams of raw cacao, you’ll be getting over 300% the daily value. And if that doesn’t impress you, just try to beat this one: raw cacao is the highest plant-based source of iron in the world! Now that’s impressive.
- Cardiovascular Health
Raw cacao has phytonutrients. Yeah, I didn’t know what they were either. Phytonutrients help with cardiovascular health, particularly in keeping your blood healthy. Raw cacao has blood-thinning properties that can help lower blood pressure and chances of clotting. It also encourages blood flow and helps keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
A long time ago the Aztecs actually referred to the cacao plant as “yollotl eztli,” which means “heart blood.” They believed that consuming cacao would help you to make decisions with your heart’s intuition rather than with your logical thinking.
4. Dietary Fiber
Raw cacao also has a high amount of dietary fiber. Although chocolate has given cacao the reputation of being sweet, raw cacao is actually very low in sugar. Most of its carbohydrates come from the fiber. The fiber in raw cacao can help keep you regular and can contribute to weight loss.
- Enhances Mood
Raw cacao can be great for getting your spirits up. Cacao stimulates the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine, anandamide and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters help activate positive emotions.
Phenethylamine and anandamide are specifically related to providing a happy feeling and positive attitude. Anandamide is even sometimes referred to as the “bliss chemical.”
Chocolate Avocado Brownies
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 ripe mashed avocados
4 organic, free range eggs
1 cup raw sugar
½ cup pHresh Superfoods Cacao Powder
½ cup almond or coconut meal – this is a great way to use the leftover pulp from making your homemade almond milk!
½ tsp pHresh salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
- Make a double broiler and melt your chocolate. Then set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. I used my immersion blender with the whisk attachment. You could also use a standard mixer. Continue whisking and slowly add your melted chocolate.
- Next add your almond meal, raw chocolate powder, salt, and vanilla extract and stir together until well combined.
- Then add your avocado. Make sure to mash your avocado well and blend well with your mixture, otherwise you will be left with little green chunks!
- Pour your mixture into a well greased baking dish and cook at 350F for 25 mins or until you can stick a fork in the middle and remove cleanly.
Peanut Butter Cups
3 Tbsp. pHresh Superfoods Cacao Powder
½ cup Almond Meal
13 tsp. (just over ¼ cup) Peanut Butter
3 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
Mini paper baking cups
- In a medium-sized sauce pan, stir in cacao powder, almond meal and maple syrup.
- Taste chocolate mixture, and add more cacao powder for a richer flavor or more maple syrup for sweeter flavor.
- Spoon a teaspoon of chocolate into baking cups, filling 1/3 of the way. (Reserve half of chocolate mixture for top layer of candy.) Freeze for 5 minutes.
- Remove candy from freezer. Add 1 teaspoon peanut butter to each cup, then pour remaining chocolate mixture over peanut butter to fill cups.
- Freeze candy for 15 minutes, then serve.