For many of us chocolate is a mouth-watering treat that gets our feel good hormones pumping and is an almost instant mood booster. But for those that have health goals in mind, there can be a vast difference in the type of chocolate you choose to indulge in. “Chocolate is bad for you” and other myths have been around since the dawn of time, but I’m here to tell you that it’s simply not true. As long as you match your health knowledge with your temptations, you can keep skipping along your healthy path! I’m here to clear up the distinctions between cacao and cocoa.
If I could choose one superfood that has gained mass media attention in the health industry over the past few years, that would certainly be cacao. And it’s for good reason given its powerful health benefits! Cacao is the purest form of chocolate on earth, meaning it doesn’t go through any rigorous processing or refinement, like that of cocoa or regular milk chocolate.
The importance of antioxidants
One of the biggest distinctions when it comes to evaluating health differences between cocoa and cacao is the level of antioxidants present. Because cocoa is roasted at very high temperatures, it loses the otherwise very high antioxidant value that pure cacao contains.
Cacao contains one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants compared to any other food. Why does this matter? Well antioxidants help to protect against every day damage, such as the not-so-healthy foods you might indulge in on cheat day!
In our fast-paced modern day lives, consuming foods that are high in antioxidant value is so vital because we are constantly, and unknowingly, exposing ourselves to a high amount of additives and preservatives through our food. Add alcohol, smoking, pollution and chemicals from household products and you have a breeding ground for “free-radicals” to form within your body. Antioxidants work to hunt out free radicals and protect you against disease, keeping your immune system firing on all cylinders and dodging disease.
High levels of magnesium
If you’ve hit the gym hard all week, you’re probably suffering from tired, over-worked muscles, not to mention overall fatigue. The reason you want to sit down with a cup of cacao rather than cocoa is because it contains impressive levels of magnesium, which again is largely lost in cocoa’s processing.
Magnesium is a very important mineral for muscle function (including contraction) and also plays a role in your energy levels. I won’t forget to mention the 298’ish other biochemical reactions that magnesium assists in! Cacao is one of the richest sources of magnesium with up to 499mg measured per 100 grams and is certainly worth adding to your diet if you’re looking to improve your overall workout goals! You can find the best natural protein powder to contain cacao due to the high levels of magnesium levels.
Don’t let other vital nutrients be roasted away
Indulging in cocoa means a big reduction in the levels of other important nutrients found in pure cacao such as:
- Calcium- Because we all want strong, healthy bones for life!
- Carotene –Helps in the production of vitamin A for glowing skin, optimal vision and a strong immune system.
- Flavonoids – Powerful type of antioxidant that may help in weight-loss due to the suppression of leptin (the hunger hormone).
- Vitamins B1-B3, B5,B9 – often hard for vegans or vegetarians to obtain through a plant based diet, however B vitamins are vital for production of cellular energy.
- Essential fatty acids (EFA)- Great for lowering bad cholesterol levels.
How to fit cacao into your diet
Because of the huge popularity of this superfood, you won’t just find cacao products in specialised health stores, but you can readily buy cacao powder and cacao nibs at your local supermarket. You can easily add cacao into your workout routine with Ultimately Natural’s Choc Supergreens All Natural Vegan Powder which combines the finest plant proteins, organic raw cacao and supergreens. Pretty much a one stop shop, especially if you’re after a high-quality vegan protein powder.
As you can see, it’s not necessarily that cocoa is not bad for you, as it is sourced from the same cacao bean, but it’s the difference in processing that sees many of its nutritional qualities stripped away.
Article by Shannon Davidson on behalf of Ultimately Natural
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