Why we love cacao


Why we love cacao

Raw chocolate health benefits

Once revered by the Aztecs and Mayans as the food of the gods, cacao powder is once again being worshipped as a powerful superfood. Made by simply grinding the beans of the cacao tree, the fine powder is a nutrition powerhouse too good to resist.

Wondering why you reach for chocolate when you’re stressed?

Cocoa beans, the key ingredient in chocolate, contain phenethylamine (PEA), an organic chemical compond that is known to act as a mood booster. But don’t go reaching for that chocolate bar just yet; cocoa beans lose almost all of their amazing superfood powers once they have been roasted.

When exposed to high heat, the molecular structure of the cocoa bean changes, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value. Most commercial chocolate is processed at high temperatures, leaving it nutritionally lacking. That’s where cacao steps in.

Cacao is the raw, unprocessed form of the more commonly recognised cocoa. It is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans, which keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa intact and removes the fat (cacao butter). What remains is a nutritionally-dense, and delicious, raw powder.


Improved muscle growth and repair
The magnesium found in abundance in raw cacao allows the body to produce more insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which is a major contributor to the growth and strength of muscles.

Natural mood booster
Cacao can increase levels of certain neurotransmitters that promote a sense of wellbeing.
The same chemical that is released when we experience deep feelings of love – phenethylamine – is also found in cacao.

Heart health
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 followed two groups of elderly men for 15 years – one that consumed cacao and one that did not. The findings showed that the group who consumed cacao halved their risk of cardiovascular mortality and a 47 per cent reduction in mortality overall.

A powerful antioxidant
Raw cacao has nearly three times the antioxidant content of green tea. It can repair damage caused by free-radicals and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Improved digestion
Raw cacao has a surprising amount of fibre, which supports digestion. Cacao also stimulates the body’s production of digestive enzymes.

Availability and uses
Cacao powder can be found in health food stores and selected supermarkets across Australia. To benefit, add a tablespoon to smoothies, sprinkle over fruit, or substitute anywhere you might use cocoa in a traditional recipe.

Written by Sally O'neil

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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.