Posted: May 28, 2013 6:00 AM
 
There is something special about chocolate. We all know this. We also know that it's supposed to be healthy, too. Well, those health benefits come from cacao, also known as raw chocolate. So, skip the sugar-filled candy bar and go for a handful of raw cacao beans instead. Your body will thank you.

According to historians, humans first discovered raw chocolate back in 1400 B.C. The seed of the fruit grown on a tropical tree called Theobroma Cacao, or “Cacao, food of the gods,” has held a dear place in our hearts ever since. Cacao beans were even used as currency in ancient Mexico instead of gold. That's how valuable it was! Raw chocolate was once believed to have magical powers. While we can't say if that's true or not, we can say for sure that it is a fantastic superfood since it's loaded with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.

Health benefits of raw chocolate

Raw chocolate is loaded to the brim with health benefits. It has a high concentration of antioxidants that protect us from free radical damage and age-related health conditions. It's also very high in the minerals magnesium, chromium, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. Other essential nutrients found in raw chocolate include vitamin C, tryptophan, serotonin and soluble fiber.

All of these nutrients packed into raw chocolate can improve digestion, neutralize free radicals and support a healthy cardiovascular system. Plus, it's said to diminish the appetite which makes it an excellent snack for those looking to lose weight.

For more on the health benefits of raw chocolate, check out the books Naked Chocolate and Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future.

What to look for when buying raw chocolate

Today, most cacao is mixed with sugar, dairy and other chemicals to create the chocolate candies we are used to consuming. These sugary snacks are not what you want.

cacao

Instead, purchase raw, organic cacao products in the form of cacao beans, cacao nibs, cacao powder, cacao butter and/or cacao paste. To get the most out of your raw chocolate, make sure what you buy is 100 percent raw and certified organic.

Raw chocolate can usually be found at Whole Foods, your local co-op grocery store and online at sites such as sunfood.com and vivapura.com.

How to use raw chocolate

Cacao beans (or nibs) are an excellent snack food. Add a handful to yogurt, trail mix or your favorite smoothies for a mid-day snack. Cacao powder can be combined in smoothies, water, tea and coffee for a decadent treat.

This raw chocolate smoothie combines both cacao powder and cacao nibs with peanut butter, banana and almond milk for a deliciously healthy refreshment.

allParenting Raw chocolate smoothie

Raw chocolate smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw, organic cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon raw, organic cacao nibs
  • Almond milk
  • Ice

Directions: 

  1. Add all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend to desired consistency, adding more almond milk as needed.
  3. Pour into glass and enjoy!


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Topics: superfood