Easter is just around the corner and so its chocolate feeding, or topping up for most people! Did you know that a regular intake of chocolate can be quite beneficial to the body? Is it cacao or cocoa? What is the difference between these two?
Most women would agree with me that chocolate is essential for our survival. It is like as if chocolate would have its special need (not only a holy space) in the diet such as the macronutrients carbohydrates, protein & lipids! Truly, if we consider that chocolate comes from Cacao which is a plant couldn't we consider it to be salad then?!
Perhaps even thinking about a balanced diet would be having chocolate in both hands?Sounds reasonable?
The fact that it is essential (at least from my understanding!) is unquestionable but the good news is that it is scientifically proved that chocolate is not only essential but extremely beneficial to the body!
The secret behind its powerful effect is cacao – the god’s beans! Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, black and green teas. The beans are rich in a number of essential minerals including Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium and Manganese and it is considered to be a super food for its amazing composition.
Now to make it clear, there is a considerable difference between cacao and cocoa.
Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing non roasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter).
While cocoa powder is raw cacao which has been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.
So how does cacao act in your body?
Cacao powder contains omega-9 fatty-acid, a heart-healthy monosaturated fat that may raise HDL cholesterol levels (good fraction of cholesterol) and act on the reduction of LDL cholesterol (not so good fraction of cholesterol).
Cacao is also a food rich in flavanols which is linked to cardiovascular protection and carries high antioxidant effects. The components of cacao are also claimed to have a positive effect in reducing blood pressure, decreasing insulin resistance, increasing the flexibility of veins and arteries, and significantly diminishing risks of stroke and heart attack. Additionally, by increasing the levels of serotonin and stimulating the secretion of endorphins in our brain, cacao promotes positive outlook, helps us to feel great and facilitates rejuvenation through its Sulphur content - a beauty mineral that helps to detoxify the body and promotes healthy skin!
Another considerable information which is important to note: it is proven that dairy inhibits the absorption of antioxidants from raw cacao. Just another reason to reduce dairy intake and if you are making a cacao smoothie , hot chocolate or any other recipe based on milk you are better off using a non-dairy milk such as almond, hazelnut, oats, rice or coconut to make sure you will get all benefits!!
Cooper,K.A. ; Donovan, J.L. ; Waterhouse,A.L. ; Williamson, G. Cocoa and Health: a decade of research. British Journal of Nutrition,99,1.
Galleano,M.;Oteiza,P.I.;Fraga,C.G.Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular disease.Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 2009. Dec;54(6):483-490