Benefits of Raw Chocolate
Raw cacao products are some of the most appealing superfoods around – the idea that chocolate can be good for you is the news that many people have been waiting for! In recent years there has been a huge increase in the availability of products made from raw cacao. But what exactly is cacao and what makes raw chocolate different?
Cacao v cocoa
Cacao and cocoa are technically the same thing – the bean from a South American tree known as Theobroma Cacao. It is this bean that is used in the manufacture of chocolate. In recent years the term ‘cacao’ has become popular to describe the raw product, while the term ‘cocoa’ is often used to describe the roasted and processed version which is traditionally used in confectionary.
What is meant by ‘raw’ chocolate?
The difference with raw chocolate is that the cacao bean is not roasted at the high temperatures that are used in commercial chocolate manufacturing. Heat destroys enzymes, antioxidants and other nutrients found in the bean, but by keeping the temperature below 42 Celsius the majority of these beneficial substances are retained
The raw cacao bean has many nutritional benefits: it contains more antioxidants than blueberries; it is a rich source of nutrients including magnesium, zinc and iron; it can improve mood by boosting the body’s serotonin levels; and it can even help to combat sugar cravings. Chocolate gained a bad reputation due to the cocoa beans being highly processed and combined with sugar and milk to make a sweet product with little nutritional value. The raw version is completely different and as it contains a high percentage of cacao, a very small amount goes a long way.
Using raw cacao
Raw cacao can be bought as powder for baking or nibs which can be sprinkled over porridge, muesli or yogurt. Raw chocolate is also very easy to make at home – simply melt raw cocoa butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water, then stir in a similar amount of raw cocoa (cacao) powder and add agave, honey or coconut sugar to sweeten. Pour into suitable molds and leave in the fridge to set. The great thing about making it yourself is that you are in total control of what goes in – try adding nuts, dried berries, rose petals, minced peppermint leaves, orange zest… you are limited only by your own imagination!