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FOOD FOCUS: CACAO

 

We have had many clients question the benefits and differences between Cacao Products so wanted to share some of those benefits and differnces with you today.

1. Cacao Beans

1. Cacao Beans

Cacao beans are found inside the fruit of the Theobroma Cacao Tree (meaning “The Food of the Gods”) and are the source of all chocolate and cocoa products. The Mexican Mayan kings drank up to 30 pure chocolate drinks a day to maintain their vigour. They valued the bean so highly that it was used as money

The cacao pods are harvested from the trees then cracked open. The beans are then taken out, fermented and dried. The level of fermentation affects the flavour. Low fermentation of about 45 degrees C is most desirable as tempaeratures any higher can effect the beans structure of nutrients.

Cacao beans have the least amount of processing and are the closest to its original form. Raw Cacao Beans contain 10 grams of antioxidants per 100 grams, which is an incredible 10%. Research has also demonstrated that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to human metabolism.

Eat 10 to 15 beans whenever you want to feel energised and happy! Cacao Beans go well in trail mix, especially with Goji Berries, Raw Cashews and Incan Berries.

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2. Cacao Nibs

2. Cacao Nibs

The cacao nib is made from removing the skin of the Cacao Bean followed by breaking the bean into smaller pieces.

It is best to opt for Raw Cacao Nibs as heating can destroy some of the nutrients within. It’s important to note that certain types of heating processes, like those that are much slower and at lower temperatures tend to help preserve nutrient content.

If roasted cacao nibs are your choice, be sure to purchase plain roasted as often extra flavors and ingredients may be added in the roasting process. Overall, a roasted cacao nib is still considered to be in it’s original and most natural form (barring any added ingredients as previously mentioned)

Cacao Nibs can make a fabulous addition to salads, oatmeal, and smoothies.

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3. Cacao Liquor

3. Cacao Liquor

Cacao Liquor is when the Cacao Nibs are ground slowly to form a paste that hardens at room temperature. This is Cacao Liquor, or Cacao Mass that is the key ingredient in chocolate. When chocolate makers refer to the cacao or cocoa content, it is the content of Cacao Liquor that they are referring to.

Cacao Liquor is a great addition to sweet treats, cakes and desserts.

4. Cacao Butter

4. Cacao Butter

Cacao butter is the pure, cold-pressed oil of the cacao bean. Cacao butter is formed when cacao liquor is pressed to separate the fats (cacao butter) from the remaining dry solids (cacao powder).

Raw cacao butter production doesn’t exceed 46 degrees C. It is nutrient dense with stable vegetable fats that can be used in cooking and in preparations of skin and beauty products. Cacao Butter has an exquisite natural aroma and flavour. It’s traditionally been used as a rich natural moisturiser, for soothing babies sore bums, as a decadent massage oil, in organic- based cosmetics like lipstick and balm and in luxury soap making.

Raw Foodists also love it as they add it to yummy concoctions like blissballs or ice cream, chocolate creations, smoothies or desserts – or smear on skin and lips for the ultimate moisturiser.

Cacao Butter is a great addition to any sweet treats, cakes and desserts – You can even use it to replace conventional butter on your morning piece of toast .

5. Cacao Powder

5. Cacao Powder

Cacao Powder is formed when cacao liquor is pressed under pressure to separate the fats (cacao butter) from the remaining dry solids (cacao powder).

Cacao powder generally retains all or most of the nutrient content (including calories and some of the fat) Cacao powder generally does not have any added sugar or other ingredients.

Cacao Power products have an antioxidant (ORAC) score of 95,500. To put that into perspective, that’s 14 times more antioxidant flavonoids than red wine, 21 times more than green tea, and 7 times more than even dark chocolate !

Cacao Powder is a great for superfood smoothies, sweet treats, cakes and desserts.

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6. Cocoa Powder

6. Cocoa Powder

Cocoa Powder looks the same as Raw Cacao but sadly it’s not. Raw Cacao Powder is just that RAW… where as Cocoa Powder has been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.

Cocoa powder generally has fewer calories though its also more likely to have added ingredients that can include sugar, dairy and additives. Cocoa Powder has fewer nutrients as it is most often heated at high temperatures. When purchasing cocoa powder it’s important to look for a variety without added sugars and other ingredients such as milk powders. A darker chocolate cocoa powder is less likely to have added milk powders and other ingredients.

Cocoa will usually be roasted to around 150°C, a process used for regular chocolate in order to develop the typical chocolate flavour. For a product to be raw, it should never be heated above 48°C. Heating above this temperature destroys many of the natural enzymes in the food, meaning it loses much of its nutritional value.

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7. Summing it up

7. Summing it up

The benefits of Raw Cacao products far surpass that of its sister Cocoa Powder…although both originating from the same tree it is clear that the less refined option being Raw Cacao is the better choice when possible.

Here is an outline of some of the fabulous benefits of Raw Cacao:

Rich in antioxidants: Raw cacao powder is extremely rich in beneficial plant polyphenols. The most beneficial of these are flavanoids, which are antioxidants. In fact, cacao powder contains far more antioxidants per 100 g than acai berries, goji berries and blueberries. Antioxidants comprise a whopping 10% of the weight of cacao powder.

Regulates blood cholesterol: The flavinoids in cacao powders also regulate blood cholesterol by increasing HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels and reducing LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels. This is partly due to increasing levels of Apo A-1 protein which clears cholesterol from blood vessels.

Regulates blood glucose and fat metabolism: Flavinoids have also been shown to increase production of the hormone adiponectin, which regulates metabolism of fatty acids, improves insulin sensitivity and regulates blood glucose levels. In this way, adiponectin can improve weight loss and reduce obesity, type II diabetes and atherosclerosis.

High in dietary fibre: Cacao powder is surprisingly high in dietary fibre. Although some people may be concerned on seeing the high carbohydrate content on the nutrition label, you should note that cacao powders are very low in sugar and the majority of the carbohydrate content is fibre. Fibre, of course, is not digested but absorbs water in the large intestine to form stools which keeps you regularly eliminating the solid waste from your system and has been shown to contribute to weight loss. Be careful if you eat too much cacao or cocoa powder as you may get a stomach ache!

Increases weight loss: In addition to the factors mentioned above which contribute to weight management, consumption of cacao powder by rats was shown to increase production of uncoupling protein-2, which is a thermogenic protein. Thermogenic proteins essentially disrupt part of the energy-making process so that lots of fat or glucose must be burned to make the same amount of useable energy, and the rest is lost as heat. This both maintains body temperature (hence the name thermogenic) and raises your rate of metabolism.

Contains compounds which make you feel good: Cacao powders contain the neurotransmitters dopamine and phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA aids mental alertness, improves mood and helps with weight loss.

Rich in Magnesium: Cacao powders have the highest source of magnesium of all foods. Magnesium is important for bone and teeth formation, transmission of nerve signals and muscle relaxation, and secretion of the parathyroid hormone which controls calcium levels in the blood. Magnesium also helps the body process fat and protein, and is important in the production and activity of some enzymes. Magnesium deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in the Western world.

Rich in Sulphur: Sulphur is essential in the formation of many proteins and enzymes in cells, and is important for healthy hair, nails, skin and connective tissue. Sulphur also promotes detoxification in the liver and good pancreas function. It is also important for the production of vitamin B1 and biotin and for the conversion of carbohydrates into useable energy.

Rich in Iron: One 28 g serving of raw cacao powder contains 314% of the recommended daily intake of iron. Iron is essential for the production and function of haemoglobin which carries oxygen molecules in the blood. It is also important for the activity of many enzymes and other proteins such as myoglobin in muscle cells and enzymes in glucose and fatty acid metabolism.

Rich in Potassium: Potassium regulates blood acidity, lowers blood pressure, and is important for the normal function of muscle cells, nerve cells, the heart, kidneys and adrenal glands.

Rich in Phosphorus: Phosphorous is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It is also important for formation of ATP and other molecules. ATP is the useable energy source derived from metabolism of glucose and fatty acids in our cells.

Rich in Calcium: Calcium is the main component of bones and teeth. It is also important for cell signalling, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. Although cacao powder is high in calcium, it is not a good source for it because it is also high in oxalic acid which prevents the calcium from being absorbed.

Also contains zinc, copper, manganese

Rich in Folate: Folate is important for making DNA and RNA, formation of new cells, and forms part of haemoglobin which carries oxygen in red blood cells.

Also small amounts of vitamins B6, E, K, and choline

There you have it…from Cacao Beans, Nibs, Liquor, Butter to Powder. There all have valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals to gain and maintain optimum wellness!!!

Enjoy some Raw Cacao TODAY!!!

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