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Ingredient Spotlight: Raw Cacao

Although, nowadays many who think of chocolate tend to associate it with Belgium or Switzerland, the origin story of the mighty cacao bean is traced back to Mesoamerica.  The cacao most likely originated in Southern Mexico, where the Olmecs ground the beans with water to create a beverage.  Very little sweetener was used in those days, although flavorings were common (think vanilla and chilies).  Often reserved for nobility and those of higher classes, cacao eventually reached Europe (mostly likely first through Spain) where it was mixed with sugar to create a product more in line with European taste buds and what we tend to see today.

Cacao beans are actually seeds derived from the cacao tree.  Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing cacao beans.  By eliminating the heating process, the beans’ nutrients are left intact (unlike cocoa powder that has been exposed to heat).  True chocolate fans appreciate its rich, slightly bitter notes while those interested in nutrition may find raw cacao’s nutritional value impressive.   

Nutritional Properties

Raw cacao is rich in:

  • Fiber (133%)
  • Iron (77% RDI)
  • Magnesium (33% RDI)
  • Calcium (13%)

Benefits of Consuming Raw Cacao

It is rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that can help fight free radicals.  Raw cacao can also be anti-inflammatory, helping to combat chronic illnesses.  In addition, raw cacao has tryptophan, a mood boosting amino acid.  Tryptophan also induces relaxation, making raw cacao a wonderful way to unwind and relax.  Raw cacao powder is very versatile as well, making it a great addition to many chocolate-filled recipes.

How to Use Raw Cacao

– Progress, Not Perfection –

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