Raw Chocolate features in this first volume as what has become known as OMG Raw Chocolate, because that is what people kept exclaiming when they tasted it! It is also features as the drizzled chocolate for the Coconut Macaroons.
It is part of the “bitter” category of foods in its raw state, as well as “sweet” because of the date syrup and raw coconut palm sugar that is used to sweeten it. Thus it is great for bringing the heart; small intestine and triple burner meridians into balance, as well as the spleen and stomach.
So, what are the benefits of cacao and why is it so much better for us than refined chocolate?
Improve our memory
Increase our bliss
Reduce heart disease
Boost immunity and
Give us lots of energy
It was considered by the Peruvian Incas as the drink of gods. This association led to the scientific name of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, which is created from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink).
Raw cacao is really high in antioxidants. It contains nearly 4 times the antioxidant content of regular processed dark chocolate; 20 times more than blueberries and 119 times more than bananas
Processed milk chocolate is made with roasted cocoa; sugar; milk and other ingredients, such as caramel and nuts etc. There has been extensive research to show that by adding dairy, it actually blocks the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate
While processed chocolate may taste delicious, the true benefits of cacao are only found in the raw form
Cacao contains a substance which improves our moods. It is called anandamide and is known as “the bliss molecule” and it creates a feeling of euphoria (maybe that’s why people reacted why they did when they tasted my special raw chocolate!)
There is also another mood-enhancing compound called PEA, which is in cacao. This triggers the release of endorphins and opium-like neurochemicals. This makes raw chocolate a potential aphrodisiac, as these are substances which we release naturally when we fall in love
These chemicals also improve libido!
Cacao can also boost the brain’s levels of serotonin, which is the feel-good brain chemical. When women experience PMS, the serotonin levels can drop dramatically so the benefits of cacao are also proven to boost the level of calming hormones in our brains and restore us to a feeling of well-being
Flavonols, which are an anti-inflammatory and heart protecting antioxidant found in raw cacao, may also protect against cardiovascular disease; reduce the risk of strokes and help to improve our blood circulation
There are over 700 compounds and complex antioxidants, known as polyphenols, found in cacao, which can help to reduce our levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as prevent the hardening of our arteries
During research carried out by the Department of Nutrition at the University of California, it was discovered that cacao thins the blood and can also prevent blood clots. The findings showed that eating raw cacao can be as beneficial as taking an aspirin a day!
The polyphenols antioxidants found in cacao belong to the same group found in green tea and wine. These anthocyanins (found in dark fruit) and catechins (found in green tea) have been shown to protect our cells from premature oxidation. Therefore these antioxidants can help to keep us younger-looking longer
There is a particular type of inhibitor found in cacao called MAO (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor), which is also found in many weight-loss products. This is naturally found in cacao powder. In studies it has been found that if you drink a cup of hot cacao before meals, it can help you shed fat! This is due to the MAO Inhibitors ability to shrink appetite.
The important thing is to ensure you never exceed more than 4 heaped teaspoons per day
It is recommended, therefore, to have one teaspoon in a coffee cup of hot water, or hot coconut; rice or nut milk (never dairy, because it prevents the absorption of antioxidants)
Essentially, by gently heating and making your own delicious hot cacao drink, you release more antioxidants and also increase your own appetite’s natural suppressant properties all in one!
Cacao is really high in magnesium. This helps not only give us much more energy and combats fatigue, it also helps to protect our bodies against osteoporosis; reduces type 2 diabetes and lowers blood pressure
Two tablespoons of raw cacao powder contains 14% of our daily recommended amount of magnesium and 100g of raw cacao nibs contains 65%
Cacao also has the ability to help improve kidney and bowel functions
A Swiss study in 2009 found that in just under 2 weeks, cacao reduced the stress hormone cortisol and improved metabolism, as well as improving gut microbial activity
A study carried out by a London scientist found that participants who ate 20g of cacao a day (c. 4 teaspoons) for 12 weeks were able to stay in the sun for twice as long as those who didn’t, without getting sunburned!
The Journal of Nutrition, in 2006, recorded that women who drank cacao containing at least 326mg of flavanols a day had better skin texture; better microcirculation; an increase in oxygen saturation and improved skin hydration than those who didn’t
In Germany, scientists found that cacao may actually protect us against harmful UV rays that cause cancer
Studies at Tulane University discovered that an extract of cacao powder was even more effective than fluoride in preventing tooth decay. It seems that the crystalline extract, which is similar to caffeine helps to harden teeth enamel
A Harvard study by Dr Gary Small, showed that people in middle age who drank two cups of cacao each day had improved memory and blood flow to the brain
Cacao has high levels of fibre. These have been found to stimulate the body’s digestive enzymes, so helping to improve our digestion
Raw Cacao is naturally high in healthy fats. Healthy fats are good for us as they help create chemical reactions for growth; increased immunity to disease and also increasing our metabolic function. These fats are similar to monounsaturated fat, which is found in olive oil.