Cacao (pronounced "cu-COW") refers to the Theobroma Cacao tree from which Cocoa is derived, and is used when referring to unprocessed versions of cacao beans. Regular cocoa powder and chocolate have been chemically processed and roasted, which destroys a large amount of the antioxidants and flavanols. A recent study suggested that between 60% and 90% of the original antioxidants in cacao are lost through common "Dutch processing", used to reduce the bitterness, darken the colour, and create a more mellow flavour to chocolate, but unfortunately also eliminates a great deal of the nutrients. 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.
Raw Organic Cacao on the other hand offers a plethora of benefits, and can be added to the diet in a myriad of ways such as adding organic cacao to smoothies and desserts, without the need for any guilt attached to its incredible taste. Some of the health benefits that Cacao has to offer include:
Contains over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries. With 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 cause cell and tissue damage and can lead to diseases such as cancer.
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. Note the iron in cacao is non-heme (as is all plant-based iron), so to get the maximum benefits you'll want to combine it with some vitamin C, like oranges and kiwi fruit
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.
Contains more calcium than cow's milk, at 160mg per 100g vs only 125mg per 100ml of milk.
A great source of four scientifically proven bliss chemicals - serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine, which are associated with feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression.