Of all the flavors available, over fifty percent of Americans consider chocolate their favorite flavor. It’s no wonder sitting next to a fire with a hot mug of cocoa is a favorite pass time! Or why chocolate is a popular flavor in any kind of protein powders, nutritional shakes, brownies, cookies and ice cream shakes! Most women will also tell you it helps them get through their menstrual cycle and cravings.
What is hardly common knowledge, is the normal process of even good cocoa, like dutch-processed cocoa, destroys many of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that could have been available had it been consumed raw. There is no need to sacrifice flavor for nutrition, just switch to an unprocessed option with a brand that lists the nutritional value.
What is raw cocoa? Cacao is the raw, or low temperature process, form of cocoa. By itself, it is very rich and dark in flavor, almost like a cup of rich coffee or espresso. The slightly bitter flavor with the mouth-watering chocolate aroma is quite enjoyable. Or for a different texture of cacao, cacao nibs are very popular. I use nibs in my ice cream, yogurt, chia pudding, shakes and sometimes even Mexican cuisine. If you are adding this tasty treat to cooked food, just add it last in your recipe to warm it up without compromising on nutrition. Or try no-bake recipe options for your favorite chocolate desserts.
Cacao is considered a superfood today with a rich heritage of magical powers and a reputation of being the food of the gods. A popular ceremony of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans encouraged drinking chocolate and blood together. According to authors Sophie and Michael Coe of “The True History of Chocolate,” it was used for fertility, currency, and religious ceremonies.
Today, we use chocolate for flavor, and most recently, nutrition. ORAC (antioxidant) research illustrates that cacao tops the charts for antioxidants activity, doubling and tripling the antioxidant value of highly respected foods like blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and more. Its antioxidant activity is even higher than the potent spirulina.
To name a few antioxidants, cacao contains Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Selenium, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Phosphorus, Sulfur, fatty acids, amino acids, enzymes, and phytonutrients.
Although chocolate and cacao is a widely popular and heavily consumed food, just like anything, it should be consumed in moderation. For me, I will gladly have a cacao smoothie every day!