Is organic raw cacao all it's cracked up to be?

I love Chocolate, I mean let's be honest who doesn't. But now that some research has come out stating the benefits of Cacao people seem to think it's the latest and greatest thing and think that gives them free reign to each as much chocolate as they want (and not even the good type of chocolate).

But is it actually?

And what is the difference between normal chocolate and Cacao?

Let's see what the research says.

The difference between raw cacao powder and the dairy milk chocolate that you usually eat is that the latter has been chemically processed and it is estimated that between 70 - 90% of the antioxidants and vital nutrients that make cacao so great are lost during processing. This combined with the added sugar and preservatives to increase the shelf life of the product and to help reduce the bitterness of pure cacao makes it not so healthy.

But read on to find 5 benefits of Organic Raw Cacao powder.

1. Antioxidant benefits - Per 100g Raw unprocessed organic Cacao has been shown to have a higher ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity - the measure used to detect the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals) than berries and 4 times the antioxidant capacity of green tea. However, do you eat 100g of raw cacao at a time? No, so in terms of getting your ORAC score up, eating an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables is going to be more beneficial and going to provide you with a lot less of a stomach ache and sugar high.

2. High in Magnesium - Raw cacao has been shown to be one of the highest vegetarian sources of magnesium with having up to 499mg/ 100g. But again, you do not eat 100g of raw cacao at a time (well look you may, but you probably shouldn't just saying) So the 2 slices of Burgen soy-linseed bread that contain 140mg or the 1 cup of brown rice that contains 86mg are going to be a much better and more sustainable way to increase your magnesium levels.

3. High in Iron - The cocao bean (or cacao bean) is very high in Iron with 13.9mg per 100g. Which depending on your life stage, you need to be consuming between 18 - 27mg of Iron per day. One cup of cooked lentils contains 6.6mg, 100gm of spinach contains 3.6mg, 28gm of pumpkin seeds contains 4.2mg so as you can see if you eat a varied nutrient dense diet, you can easily get enough Iron per day.

4. Can help promote cardiovascular health - the antioxidant flavanols that are found in raw cacao have been shown to protect against heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Again, many other fruits, vegetables and wholefoods have these exact properties but not as high levels.

5. Increases levels or neurotransmitters - Cacao is a great source of the neurotransmitters serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are used to promote feelings of happiness, enjoyment, bliss and can even help reduce and alleviate depression. Hence why when you're sad or stressed you go reaching for that block of chocolate.

So as you can see there are many benefits to unprocessed organic raw cacao. However, eating a varied diet high in colourful fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, gains and lean protein can provide you with all of these exact benefits too.

However, I am all about eating everything in moderation and definitely love my chocolate so there is no way i'm going to deprive myself of that. But even with the above benefits mentioned, it's not as if I think oh great I need magnesium I'm going to eat cacao, I know there are many better and far more easier to source forms of magnesium to have. I just good to know that when I do want something sweet that I am eating something that is not entirely bad for me and does have somewhat of a nutritional benefit.

So say goodbye to that processed sugar laden chocolate and reach for the cacao instead - your waist line, mood and magnesium levels will thank you for it.