Contrary to popular belief, chocolates are one of the healthiest foods today if used properly. If you think that chocolate is healthy, then you will be more amazed if you find out that its main ingredient – the raw cacao — is actually the source of its nutritional benefits.
This article aims to provide factual and simple information on the nutritional benefits of raw cacao. Though there are more than 300 compounds in a single cacao bean, we will tackle those that are commonly used in the medical field and beneficial to our bodies.
Difference Between Cacao And Chocolates
Before we delve into the nutritional facts of cacao, we have to understand that there is a big difference between the raw variety and its chocolate counterpart.
For starters, chocolates made from processed cacao along with sugar are said to only have 1 to 5 percent of the nutritional value found in its raw ingredient. Meaning, sweet chocolates aren’t that healthy to begin with; unless of course you go for dark chocolates made from raw cacao retaining a majority of its healthy compounds.
Behavioral And Emotional Effects Of Cacao
There are more than 300 compounds found in raw cacao. Among these includes magnesium that is perfect for developing strong bones — a must for Americans who are said to have low magnesium levels compared to other races.
Also, raw cacao contains compounds that directly affect our emotional and behavioral patterns. The PEA or phenylethylamine is a compound found in cacao that helps increase pulse rate and blood circulation for added alertness and focus. PEA is also released by our adrenal gland but in lesser quantities compared to raw cacao.
Another compound found in cacao that directly affects our emotions is the anandamide. This compound is known to increase our blood pressure and sugar levels that lead to excitement and alertness. This compound is a common ingredient in anti-depression drugs.
Solution To Heart Problems
According to medical research, cacao contains a compound called Theobromine that directly affects our nervous system. There is much debate regarding this compound considering that it is somewhat similar to caffeine in terms of stimulants.
In most cases, Theobromine is a mild diuretic that can help decrease the probability of heart attacks. Through the increase of urination caused by this compound, heart attacked caused by increased in body fluids can be averted.
Other Health Facts
Aside from the health benefits above, cacao is also a great antioxidant that ranked first among the 10 known fruits with antioxidant properties today. It contains 4 times the anti-aging compounds commonly found in a Goji berry which makes it a potent solution for those who wants to get rid of harmful radicals in their body that contributes to wrinkles, scars, weak and pale skin, and so on.
Despite the potency of cacao as a superfood, keep in mind that there is a big difference with raw cacao and chocolates sold in the market today. It all depends on what types of chocolates you eat to get the most benefit out of it. Dark unsweetened chocolates made from raw cacao are the best since most of its compounds are retained even after processing.