Chocolate is arguably everyone’s favorite superfood and everyone seems to be talking about cacao benefits. But what is it that makes chocolate so healthy? It’s certainly not the harsh processing and added sweeteners in most of the chocolate you find in the store. The secret to chocolate’s superfood status is in its purest form: cacao! It’s the raw cacao that boasts some serious health benefits.
What Is Cacao?
Cacao comes from the Theobroma cacao tree, a name derived from Greek meaning “food of the gods.” It was originally only grown in Central and South America where it was very much treated as a sacred food. Today, it is grown all over the world with much of it coming from Africa.
Cacao is where cocoa comes from. Cocoa is made when the cacao beans are crushed and ground into a paste. The paste is then heated in order to dry it into a powder. This is then processed further to make all the not-so-great-for-you chocolate products available at the store. But even if you purchase unsweetened cocoa powder, it won’t have the same nutritional makeup as cacao because of the heat processing used.
Before cacao is processed into cocoa, it contains a whole host of health-nourishing compounds. This is what makes raw cacao a truly impressive superfood.
Nutrition Of Cacao
Cacao powder is a highly nutritious food. In addition to being high in minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and potassium, a two-tablespoon serving of raw cacao powder also contains:
- 7 grams of protein
- 6 grams of healthy fat
- 8 grams of fiber
- 0 grams of sugar
On top of all that, cacao is incredibly high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, which are oxidative stress-inducing compounds created in response to things like pollution, cigarette smoke, poor diet, and many other things we encounter on a daily basis.
Raw cacao is one of the richest sources of antioxidants available, containing more antioxidants than superfoods like blueberries, goji berries, and tea (1). What’s important to note, however, is the amount of antioxidants decreases dramatically when cacao is put through the traditional method of “Dutch processing”.
Simply put, in order to get all the good stuff cacao has to offer, raw is the way to go.
7 Truly Incredible Cacao Benefits
Now that you’ve got a solid understanding of what raw cacao is and what makes it so unique, let’s get to the good stuff: the health benefits of cacao.
Cacao Benefit #1: Supports A Positive Mood
Chocolate lovers are probably already familiar with this benefit. If you’ve ever bitten into a piece of dark chocolate and felt blissful, it’s not your imagination! Cacao contains natural mood-lifting “bliss chemicals” like tyrosine, phenylethylamine, anandamide, and theobromine. Tyrosine is the precursor to dopamine, which is the brain chemical responsible for feelings of reward and motivation (2). Phenylethylamine is an adrenal-related chemical that occurs when you feel excited or in love. Anandamide is a natural chemical molecule that helps support a state of bliss. And theobromine is a compound that positively affects our mood and energy levels. *
Cacao Benefit #2: Supports Healthy Blood Pressure
Cacao is especially high in flavonols, which are secondary metabolites found in plants that have an antioxidant effect. Studies have shown that the flavanols in cacao can increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide which signals the arteries to relax and promotes normal blood pressure (3). *
Cacao Benefit #3: Supports Heart Health
Supporting a positive mood and healthy blood pressure are both likely to have a positive effect on heart health, but cacao shows the heart even more love than that. Raw cacao is a good source of potassium, which is a key nutrient in hearth health (4). Studies have also shown that regular consumption of cacao is associated with improvements in cholesterol levels (5). Cacao can also help prevent the clumping of blood platelets (6). The bottom line: cacao loves your heart! *
Cacao Benefit #4: Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is key to overall health and the flavonols in cacao can help! Cacao flavonoids have been shown to support healthy insulin sensitivity and secretion, helping your body manage appropriate blood sugar levels (7). In addition, cacao can help slow the digestion of carbohydrates. *
Cacao Benefit #5: Supports Healthy Inflammatory Response
Inflammation gets a bad rap but a healthy inflammatory response is crucial to maintaining health and overall well-being in your body. And regular consumption of flavonol-rich cacao has been shown to help support your body’s inflammatory response (8). *
Cacao Benefit #6: Supports Brain Health
Want to feel even better about your chocolate obsession? Turns out, cacao is good for your brain, too! Once again, the flavonols in cacao get the credit. Those flavonols have been shown to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and could even be effective in supporting healthy cognitive function (9)! Theobromine also plays a role here, helping you feel more alert. Sounds like cacao and studying should go hand-in-hand. *
Cacao Benefit #7 - Supports Digestive Health
The health benefits of cacao just won’t quit, so it should come as no surprise that it’s also gut-friendly. Cacao has been shown to have positive effects on the gut microbiome similar to prebiotics and probiotics, promoting friendly bacteria populations (10). And we all know a happy gut means a happy body. *
A Deliciously Healthy Way To Consume Cacao Every Day
It’s pretty clear that regular consumption of raw cacao is a great idea. But since most of the chocolate on the market is filled with sugar, preservatives, and other not-so-desirable ingredients, how can you enjoy all the cacao benefits in a healthy way? We suggest a decadent, creamy, flavorful drink that only includes the best health-nourishing ingredients!
Cacao Bliss starts with raw, “ceremonial grade” cacao sourced directly from Peru that is gently fermented and sun-dried, never roasted, to retain all the incredible health benefits Mother Earth intended. And to take the nourishing benefits of cacao up a notch, Cacao Bliss includes a blend of additional superfoods: *
- Turmeric, to help fight exercise-related inflammation, support digestion, and soothe occasional stress.*
- Black Pepper, to increase the "bioavailability" of the turmeric.*
- MCT Powder, to help you feel fuller, longer.*
- Cinnamon, to help your body digest glucose and reduce cravings for sugary treats.*
- Monk Fruit, to help satisfy your sweet tooth without calories or negative effects on blood sugar.*
- Coconut Nectar, to act as a prebiotic and feed your healthy gut bacteria.*
- Lacuma, to add a caramel-like flavor along with body-repairing properties.*
- Mesquite, to help boost your immune system with a sweet and nutty flavor.*
- Himalayan salt, to help balance pH levels with over 84 minerals and trace elements.*
The combination of 10 superfoods in Cacao Bliss creates an indulgent drink you can feel good about enjoying every day to promote a positive mood, increase natural energy and mental clarity, support a healthy inflammatory response, and unlock your “bliss molecule”! *
If you’re ready to enjoy all the amazing health benefits cacao has to offer in a truly delicious, satisfying drink, grab a bag of Cacao Bliss today!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.