What exactly is cacao?
Cacao is actually a tree that produces beans. Powder is formed from the beans and is raw, and therefore is the purest chocolate you can get. You can find it in powder form, nibs, or bars. It has many healthy qualities and lets you eat chocolate without guilt!
What are the health benefits of cacao?
- It is full of antioxidants, which help stop cell damage caused by free radicals. You may have heard that blueberries and green tea are great sources of antioxidants (and they are!), but raw cacao powder has many times more antioxidants ounce for ounce.
- Cacao helps you feel good through stimulating hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and several others. This is one of the reasons we feel good after eating chocolate. As a bonus, it gives you more energy too!
- It is very nutrient dense. It contains a large amount of magnesium, which is great for more reasons than I can list here (but check out this blog post on the wonderful benefits of magnesium here). If you crave chocolate, you may be deficient in magnesium (like 70% of Americans). Cacao also is full of plant-based iron, chromium and calcium, which helps the body in numerous ways like improving cardiovascular health, slowing aging, preventing cancer, and maintaining strong bones.
How do I use it?
- Make hot chocolate or add a some to a smoothie with some Swerve to sweeten it up.
(Great for a healthy “treat” drink for kids, too).
- Try it in a baked dessert. I love it in these low carb, healthy brownies. It calls for cocoa powder, but I substitute cacao powder. You can lose some of the nutrients by baking it, but it is still delicious and healthy.
- Try it in a no-bake dessert, and keep all the nutrients! I love adding a tablespoon to this cream cheese cloud recipe to make them chocolatey and add a nutrient burst.
What should I look for?
You will want to look for raw, organic cacao, that is fair trade. It should be gluten and dairy free (which is helpful when you have someone in your family with food allergies like I do)! In addition, it should be non-alkalized and non-GMO.
I like Anthony’s (see below) because it is reasonably priced, certified organic, and only has one ingredient listed: organic cacao. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Have you tried cacao in any of its forms? What is your favorite way to use it?
Resources in this post:
This is for educational purposes only, and not intended as medical advice. As always, please consult a doctor before making any lifestyle or health changes. Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, at no additional cost to you, I receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I believe will be helpful to you. In addition, 50% of the profit from this site, including affiliate commissions, goes to helping those in need. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”