Cacao: Unwrapping the Health Benefits of Pure Indulgence!

cacao

Cacao has a myriad of health benefits that has given it the term ‘superfood’. Cacao the primary ingredient in chocolate is loved by many – sometimes a little too much!  Yet it can form a part of a healthy diet, here are some of the top reasons to include a little bit now and again;

  1. Cacao: The Superfood Secret

Cacao has a rich history, dating back to ancient civilizations like the Mayans and Aztecs. The magic lies in its abundant antioxidants, specifically flavonoids, which combat oxidative stress and protect our cells from damage.

  1. Happy Heart, Happy You!

Did you know that cacao can be heart-healthy? Flavonoids in cacao promote healthy blood flow and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. These compounds help maintain flexible blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, and improve overall heart health.

  1. Blissful Brain Booster

Indulging in cacao might have a positive impact on cognitive function. The flavanols in cacao may enhance memory, improve focus, and increase blood flow to the brain, promoting overall cognitive well-being.

  1. Mood Enhancer Extraordinaire

Feeling down? Cacao has been associated with improved mood and reduced symptoms of stress and anxiety. It contains various compounds like serotonin, phenylethylamine (PEA), and anandamide, often referred to as the “bliss molecule,” which can elevate feelings of happiness and relaxation.

  1. A Skin Savor

Cacao’s benefits aren’t limited to internal health; they extend to external beauty as well. The antioxidants in cacao protect the skin from free radicals, delaying the signs of aging and leaving you with a radiant complexion. Additionally, cacao-infused skincare products are becoming increasingly popular for their nourishing properties.

  1. Energize with Euphoria

Looking for a natural energy boost? Cacao might be your answer! It contains theobromine, a stimulant that offers a gentle, longer-lasting energy lift without the jitters often associated with caffeine. The combination of theobromine and other compounds in cacao contributes to that pleasant feeling you get when indulging in a piece of chocolate.

Remember, to reap the full health benefits of cacao, opt for darker chocolate varieties with higher cacao content, preferably 70% or more. This ensures a lower sugar content and maximizes the concentration of beneficial compounds.

Here are a few ways in which to incorporate cacao into life (including and other than just a bar of chocolate!)

Raw Chocolate Cake

Base
1 cup almonds
1 tsp vanilla
1oz cacao
4 dates
1/3 cup coconut butter
Pinch salt
Blend and press into a 9-inch tin

Filling
2 cups of soaked cashews (soaked for one hour)
Tin of coconut milk
1/3 cup Maple syrup
5 dates
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt
1/3 cup cacao
2 tbsp lecithin

Blend all except the lecithin. Then whizz in at the end. Vitamin or high-speed blender is best.

Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse

1 ripe avocado

1 ripe banana

3 tbsp coconut oil

4 tbsp cocoa powder

100ml almond milk

1 handful frozen raspberries

Pinch of salt

Put the stoned and skinned avocado, cacao powder and salt in the blender and blend.  Slowly add the milk until the mixture becomes creamy add a little extra milk if it isn’t creamy enough.

Put the mousse into 2 ramekins and put in the freezer for 30 mins.

Crumble the raspberries over the top of each dessert.

Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats

1/2 cup oats

250 ml coconut milk
1/2 tsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of chia seeds
1.5 tablespoon raw cacao powder
2 tsp cacao nibs
maple syrup or honey to taste
sliced fresh cherries (berries are lovely too!)

Fold the oats, milk, lemon juice, chia seeds together in a jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, fold in cacao powder, nibs and maple syrup. Top with the cherries. Add more milk if desired.

You can also let the muesli stand at the room temperature for 10 minutes to warm up slightly. For a pretty presentation layer, the oat and chia mixture with the sliced cherries in a glass jar or bowl.

GAYLE MERCHANT

It is my passion to support people in understanding what is at the root of the health conditions that they are facing. Functional medicine hand in hand with nutritional therapy helps me unearth the reasons for ill health and the obstacles that have been preventing recovery.

I wholeheartedly believe we are a blend of our histories; our food and lifestyle choices and our genetics – in fact, we are unique walking recipes ourselves. Finding the ingredients to help you make the best version of yourself is part of my work, so you can establish a loving friendship with your body and find balance in your life.