The Amazing Health Benefits of CacaoSuperfoods are highly nutritious foods known for their possible health benefits due to their abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other compounds. Superfoods like ginger and berries promote well-being and potentially reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. Cacao is one of the main ingredients found in chocolate, with a higher concentration in dark chocolate. It is a well-known superfood that helps support cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, enhance mood, and supply vital nutrients. This blog post will discuss cacao's origins and incredible overall health benefits.
WHAT IS CACAO?Cacao (pronounced "ka-kow") originates from the Theobroma cacao tree, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (food), which translates to the food of the gods in 1841. From its ancient roots to modern cultivation and production, cacao remains a great ingredient that has shaped human history and enriched our cultural heritage.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CACAO AND COCOA?The cacao fruit is the raw and natural, unprocessed form of cocoa; while cocoa is essentially extracted, roasted, fermented and ground cacao beans. The processes may vary depending on the product, since the whole cacao fruit is edible and may be prepared as powder, nib, or butter. So if you heard that cocoa products like dark chocolate are good for you, that's because the fruit itself has a wealth of health benefits.
TOP 4 CACAO HEALTH BENEFITSCacao flavonoids have many different effects on the body, such as helping keep your heart healthy and ensuring your brain gets all the love it needs and deserves. Flavonoids help make nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, makes more neurons in the brain, and improves blood flow to the brain. Cacao's flavonoids help your body produce nitric oxide, which helps open blood vessels and send more blood to your brain. They also help the brain make new nerve cells or neurons. Let's learn more about how this superfood impacts our health and wellness:
1. Improves Cognitive FunctionHave you ever experienced the 2 pm afternoon slump where the brain feels like it is operating in low-power mode, or your memory feels like a sieve? Try adding some cocoa to your everyday routine. You can prepare cacao as a tasty snack in many different ways, and it helps you do the best you can. Cacao helps combat brain fog, improving cognitive function and making you feel less tired in the afternoon.
Cacao's natural compounds, phenylethylamine and anandamide, can positively impact the nervous system by boosting mood, enhancing cognitive function, and potentially reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.
Cacao boosts your brain, so it's a great addition to your lunch or afternoon brew to help beat the brain fog and keep you in a good mood.
2. Supports Cardiovascular HealthThe heart is responsible for transporting nutrients, hydration, blood, and oxygen throughout the body, so we should prioritise our cardiovascular health. Cacao has been scientifically proven to contain properties that support cardiovascular health when complemented with a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Cacao also contains essential flavonoids exhibiting potent antioxidant properties that reduce cardiovascular disease risks by combating oxidative stress and inflammation within the body and contributing to improved blood flow, aiding in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and reducing the likelihood of blood clot formation.
3. Promotes Good Gut HealthThe microbiome in the gut is so important and complicated that it is often called the "gut-brain connection." Researchers are learning more and more about how important the bacteria in your gut are for your body and brain. A healthy gut will help prevent mood issues, heart diseases, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, obesity, and cancer. Flavonoids found in cacao act as a prebiotic, which can help support and promote good gut bacteria, preventing constipation and other digestive issues.
4. Boosts MoodNeed an excuse to eat chocolate? Or a little 'pick me up' during a chaotic day? Look no further! Whether you're stressed from work or studies or want that extra pick me up, cacao is the way to go. Cacao is naturally infused with various "feel-good hormones" like serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine. These hormones may contribute to feelings of happiness, motivation and also have the potential to alleviate some feelings of low mood. Consuming cacao is a natural mood booster that gives you an extra pick-me-up.
WHAT IS THE NUTRITIONAL PROFILE OF CACAO?Cacao is a widely-known chocolate ingredient, containing over 300 nutrients and compounds. The whole fruit is packed with nutrients and while it may be tempting to list all of them, we'll save you time and focus on a few of the most important ones for overall health. Here's a quick rundown of cacao's vast and diversified nutritional profile:
TheobromineTheobromine, cacao's namesake, is the cacao bean's principal alkaloid, often used in pharmaceutical products. This component is a mild stimulant linked to caffeine, without the jitters or inevitable energy drop. Theobromine may help elevate mood, increase body performance, enhance cognitive function, and support cardiovascular health.
Individual responses to cacao may vary in terms of unique sensitivity and physiology. While cacao is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, you should consume it and its derivatives in moderation and consult a healthcare professional, especially those with relevant pre-existing conditions. Excessive Theobromine consumption may lead to adverse effects such as increased heart rate, headaches, digestive discomfort or nausea.
CaffeineCacao includes caffeine, another stimulant in the xanthines class of alkaloids, and theobromine. However, when it comes to cacao, theobromine, caffeine, and numerous other compounds in cacao may have a sizable synergistic effect, which may improve mood, cognition, and even the taste of chocolate.
The most caffeinated cacao products come from South American countries such as Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.
AntioxidantsCacao is also one of the most potent antioxidants anywhere in the world, competing with other superfood stars like goji berries, acai, and blueberries because of its fantastic antioxidant, loaded with a broad spectrum of polyphenols and flavanols. Antioxidants combat free radicals and oxidation in the body and provide various other health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.
Cacao has more antioxidants per 100g than Goji berries, more than eight times as much as green tea and five times as many as blueberries. Antioxidants in cacao are highly bioavailable, meaning our bodies can absorb them more efficiently.
Essential Minerals (e.g. Magnesium)Cacao is one of the richest plant sources of magnesium, which is essential for many bodily functions like keeping your heart healthy, converting glucose into energy and maintaining cognitive function. The magnesium found in cacao may help ease migraines, with one study finding that individuals who consumed tryptophan daily were 54%–60% less likely to get migraines.
Cacao, which has both tryptophan and serotonin, may help reduce migraines by increasing serotonin levels.
FibreDietary fibre is essential to a healthy diet as it helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps us satiated longer; however, 83% of Australians do not consume enough daily fibre. The good news is that cacao contains approximately 33 grams of dietary fibre per 100 grams.
Therefore, the next time you crave something sweet, opt for cacao; you'll add a lot of healthy nutrients.
ADDING CACAO POWDER OR OTHER FORMS OF COCAO TO YOUR DIETNow comes the exciting part. Do you have a chocolate craving? We got you. Here are some simple, delicious ways to add 100% cacao into your diet to begin reaping the cacao health benefits.
1. Add Cacao Powder To Your SmoothieBegin your day with a nutritious and delicious smoothie by adding a spoonful of cacao powder to your favourite recipes. Whether you prefer a refreshing fruit smoothie or a creamy green smoothie, the addition of cacao powder will infuse your drink with a rich chocolatey flavour and provide a boost of antioxidants. Blend it well for a creamy and indulgent treat.
If you're looking for more smoothie recipes featuring the rich and indulgent flavour of cacao, check out these delicious options:
Spinach and Cacao Smoothie
2. Add Raw Cacao Nibs To Your Favourite Trail MixUpgrade your snacking game by incorporating raw cacao nibs into your go-to trail mix. These crunchy cacao nibs provide a delightful texture and a deep chocolate flavour that complements the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits in your mix. The combination of protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants from the cacao nibs will keep you energised and satisfied during your outdoor adventures or as a midday pick-me-up.
3. Make An Iced Chocolate Or Warm ChocolateIndulge in a refreshing iced chocolate beverage on a warm day or enjoy a comforting warm chocolate drink during the colder months. Dissolve cacao powder in your choice of milk, whether it's dairy or plant-based, and add a touch of sweetness with honey or your preferred natural sweetener. For an iced chocolate, blend it with ice cubes for a cool and creamy treat. For a warm chocolate, gently heat the mixture on the stovetop and sprinkle some cinnamon or nutmeg for added flavour.
4. Eat Some >70% Dark ChocolateFor chocolate lovers, here's a delightful way to embrace cacao and indulge in your favourite treat guilt-free! Treat yourself to a piece of high-quality dark chocolate with a cacao content of 70% or higher. Seek out bars that are minimally processed, free of excessive additives or sugars, and let the rich flavours of cacao shine through.
And as they say, what's life without a little chocolate? So go ahead, enjoy your small piece of dark chocolate mindfully, and relish the intense chocolate flavour and the abundance of antioxidants and health-promoting compounds. It's a cocoa turning point in your day that brings a smile to your face and a treat to your taste buds. Embrace the cacao goodness and let it melt in your mouth.
Mocha is infused with cacao, so it’s one of the many ways to add this superfood into your daily diet. Beforeyouspeak offers a selection of coffee with mocha flavours, incorporating cacao into their blends:
5. Add BYS Mocha Coffee To Your Day
Adrenal Decaf CoffeeAdrenal Decaf Coffee is a decaffeinated blend of nine calming and restful ingredients, including Zinc, Ashwagandha, and Camu Camu, to help you relax and unwind before bedtime. The blend has premium Colombian coffee beans decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Method, which removes 97% of the caffeine. The coffee base infused with nine herbal ingredients produces a rich, earthy flavour.
There are three flavours available:
Mocha - added cocoa and a light sweetness from stevia.
Caramel - has a rich dessert-like taste enhanced with natural caramel flavour and stevia.
Unsweetened - a bold and earthy brew that allows the herbal ingredients to shine through without the sweetness of stevia.
Collagen CoffeeCollagen Coffee is an all-in-one coffee elixir that aims to enhance your natural beauty from within, enriched with Marine Collagen, Silica, Camu Camu, Proline, and Biotin, which may be served hot or cold. The Collagen Coffee provides nourishment while being a part of your daily coffee routine, offering a youthful boost. The coffee's taste is rich and smooth, with a creamy MCT finish.
There are three flavours available:
Mocha - includes the benefits of the superfood Cacao and a light sweetness.
Original - a bold coffee taste and lightly sweetened with Stevia.
Unsweetened - a classic black coffee flavour without the sweetness of Stevia for those who prefer a more robust cup.
Take this quiz to find out which coffee would suit you best in 60 seconds or less. Take note that boiling water may affect cacao’s effectiveness, so wait at least 5 minutes before pouring in your water to retain more cacao benefits.
GAIN THE BENEFITS OF CACAO IN YOUR DIETTo fully reap the benefits of cacao, consider incorporating it into various aspects of your diet. Experiment with cacao-infused desserts like raw energy balls, homemade granola bars, or chocolate avocado mousse. Sprinkle cacao nibs on top of your morning bowl of oatmeal or yoghurt for added crunch and flavour. You can even explore cacao-based recipes for savoury dishes like mole sauce, where the depth and complexity of cacao can elevate the flavour profile of your meals.
By incorporating cacao in these diverse ways, you'll not only enjoy its delicious taste but also gain the incredible health benefits that this superfood has to offer. So get creative in the kitchen and embrace the versatility of cacao to enhance your overall well-being.