Cacao/Chocolate - Superfood for the heart and soul

Did you know?

All chocolate comes from the cacao bean, but not all chocolate is created equal. Cacao beans often undergo processing like fermenting, drying, roasting, and alkalizing, which weakens their bitter taste and causes antioxidant losses. Many chocolate products also contain added fat, sugar, emulsifying agents, flavours, milk solids, the latter of which are thought to decrease the absorption of chocolate’s beneficial antioxidants. The end result is often a processed chocolate junk food.   So skip the highly processed milk chocolate and white chocolate (which contains no chocolate at all, by the way) and choose dark and raw chocolate for maximum benefits.  Your body will thank you.

All chocolate originates from cacao (cocoa) beans, the seeds of football shaped fruits that grow on the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). Often referred to as “food of the gods,” cacao is a beloved superfood with a long history of use in the Mayan ad Aztec cultures.  Cacao trees are native to Central and South America where they get produce numerous fruits throughout the year, and each fruit contains 35-50 seeds, which are the cacao beans from which all chocolate is made.  Chocolate lovers rejoice the cacao bean - chocolate in its purest form - has numerous heart-healthy and potentially mood-boosting compounds, making it a superfood for the heart and soul.

Two tablespoons of raw acao powder contains about 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of dietary fiber. It contains heart healthy oleic acid fats (the same monounsaturated fat found in avocados and olives). Chocolate may also help improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, both of which play important roles in diabetes.  There is some evidence that shows chocolate may also help boost mood and improve cognition - likely due to its flavonoids and stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.  One study found that chocolate helped lessen the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, while another found that consuming a small amount of dar chocolate (just an ounce-28g) for two weeks lowered levels of stress hormones like cortisol (and elevated levels of cortisol may increase abdominal fat and risk of heart disease).

Try a few of our recipes featuring chocolate:
Raw Chocolate Coconut Squares 
Chocolate-Banana Quinoa Layered Squares

 

Source: Powerful Plant Based Super Foods - The best way to eat for maximum health, energy, and weight loss. - Author: Lauri Boone, R.D.

Susan Arruda