While most researchers agree that good quality chocolate is actually part of a healthy diet, many people have never actually tasted truly raw cacao, the main ingredient in most mainstream chocolates.
Native to the tropical parts of Central and South America, raw cacao comes from the seeds of the fruit of theobroma cacao, a small evergreen tree. True cacao tastes quite bitter, which is why it’s usually mixed with milk and sugar before it’s sold in traditional candy bars and chocolates. But when you mix raw cacao powder with sugar and dairy, you miss out on a lot of the amazing health benefits.
Whether you’re a fan of raw cacao powder or cacao nibs, which are cacao beans that have been husked and roasted and broken into pieces, cacao itself is one of the best dietary sources of manganese, which is essential to many bodily enzymes including those that “form connective tissue, blood clotting factors and sex hormones.”
Cacao is also a great provider of iron and fiber, two essential nutrients that women in particular don’t always get enough of.
Cacao and dark chocolate have both been linked to increases in serotonin and endorphins, natural chemicals that make us feel happy. While it hasn’t been proven to work as well as a medical mood enhancer, cacao is certainly a great supplement for those looking for a little extra pep in their step.
Because of cacao’s antiviral and anti-inflammation properties, there have also been studies showing that it may be a good natural solution for treating allergic diseases.
If you’re looking for ways to enjoy raw cacao, try these recipes below:
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