Superfoods like cacao contain significantly higher quantities of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other health boosting nutrients that also provide anti-aging and disease fighting properties.
Raw cacao, not to be confused with cocoa powder, is the unprocessed version of the cacao bean. Cacao beans have long been valued for their medicinal features along with culinary uses.
In terms of nutritional value, raw cacao contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and packs a lot more antioxidant potential than even the best known superfoods such as blueberries and dark chocolate.
Incorporating raw cacao into the diet can be as simple as brewing up a hot or cold chocolate beverage, whizzing it into a smoothie, ripping open a raw, organic chocolate bar or baking it into a brownie. To find out just how raw cacao can help improve your health, take a look at its top five health benefits:
- Heart healthy and brain food
Raw organic cacao is among the most well-known magnesium sources derived from plants. Magnesium is not only essential for a heart that is healthy but it also transforms glucose into energy, enabling the brain to perform with more focus and clarity.
Magnesium is also needed for proper muscle and nerve function which helps keep heart rhythms steady. The benefits also extend to the arteries in the brain by serving as antioxidants and inhibiting blood platelets from forming a clot.
- Excellent source of dietary fiber
While cacao can be high in fat and calories, consuming it in its raw, organic form in moderation will provide lots of fiber into the diet.
Fiber can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time without the need for bingeing or unwanted snacking. The fiber along with polyphenols in cacao can work together to keep blood pressure and blood glucose levels in check.
The same fiber is also helpful in keeping bowel movements regular.
- Highest plant based source of iron
Cacao has the most plant based iron content, excelling other foods like lamb and spinach. The iron content of cacao is nonheme in nature, meaning it is completely plant based, so it is recommended to incorporate it with vitamin C for better absorption.
Iron is required by the body for red blood cell production and is helpful in fighting anemic symptoms.
- Anti-depressant and mood enhancing properties
Cacao happens to be a natural source of chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and phenylethylamine. All these chemicals are known to bring about feelings of contentment, happiness and relaxation.
When these chemicals are transmitted to the brain, it can affect mood and trigger positive emotions. As such, consuming cacao on a frequent basis can help improve mood and even relieve depression.
- Treat diarrhea
Historically cacao beans have been used to treat diarrhea and alleviate the associated digestive discomfort.
This therapeutic quality is because of the flavonoid content in cacao that helps prevent the buildup of fluid in the small intestine. Some research indicates that the flavonoids work by binding to and inhibiting a protein which regulates fluid secretion in the small intestine.
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