What is Raw Cacao?
One question I get a lot is - what is a raw cacao?
Why should I bother eating it? Surely it's just hyped up versions of regular cocoa...
Well Raw cacao is actually quite different from the common "Cocoa" most of us grew up with in our chocolate brownies. Cacao (pronounced "cu-COW") refers to the Theobroma Cacao tree from which Cocoa is derived, and is used when referring to unprocessed versions of the cacao bean.
Normal cocoa powder and chocolate have been chemically processed and roasted, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols (the things that keep you young and healthy). A recent study suggested that between 60% and 90% of the original antioxidants in cacao are lost through common "Dutch processing". Dutch processing was originally developed in the early 19th Century to reduce the bitterness, darken the colour, and create a more mellow flavour to chocolate, but unfortunately also eliminated a bunch of the goodness.
Non-organic cocoa (and non-organic chocolate) has also been treated heavily with toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals, and may contain genetically modified (GMO) products.
If that wasn't enough, Oxfam estimates that over 70% of the world's cocoa is grown by indigenous communities who are paid such a low wage that poverty is widespread. In some instances child slaves are used, forced to engage in dangerous work such as using machetes and applying toxic pesticides. Big incentive to reach for a bar of fairly traded chocolate when your next craving hits!
5 Little Known Benefits of Raw Organic Cacao
1. 40 Times the Antioxidants of Blueberries
Raw Organic Cacao has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries. Yes 40 times! It has an amazing ORAC score of 98,000 per 100g, vs blueberries at a mere 2,400. ORAC scores measure the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals (that come from pollution and toxins in our environment), which cause cell and tissue damage and can lead to diseases such as cancer.
2. Highest Plant-Based Source of Iron
On a plant-based/vegan diet and looking for iron? The search is over! Cacao is the highest plant-based source of iron known to man, at a whopping 7.3mg per 100g. This compares to beef and lamb at 2.5mg, and spinach at 3.6mg.
3. Full of Magnesium for a Healthy Heart & Brain
Raw Organic cacao is also one of the highest plant-based sources of magnesium, the most deficient mineral in the Western world. Magnesium is important for a healthy heart, and helps turn glucose into energy enabling your brain to work with laser-sharp clarity and focus. The reason why you might turn to a bar of chocolate during an all-nighter at your desk!
4. More Calcium Than Cow's Milk
Raw Organic Cacao has more calcium than cow's milk would you believe, at 160mg per 100g vs only 125mg per 100ml of milk. Time to switch out the trim latte for a couple of squares of dairy free raw chocolate.
5. A Natural Mood Elevator and Anti-Depressant
Cacao is a great source of four scientifically proven bliss chemicals - serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with cosy feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression. A natural, healthy, delicious (and legal) way to get your happy buzz on.
- Stuart Jones