Nutritional health benefits of the Cacao Bean

Cocoa Cacao Chocolate Food Sweet  - janiceweirgermia / Pixabay
Cocoa Cacao Chocolate Food Sweet - janiceweirgermia / Pixabay
janiceweirgermia / Pixabay

Health benefits of the Cacao Bean

Nature has given us everything in its natural form. However, as humans, we have failed to consume the fruits of nature as they are. Instead, most of our food’s raw state is stripped down, injected with hormones, colors, preservatives and the list goes on forever. The Cacao Bean is one of those superfoods we let slip away from our grasp. Here’s why you should consume more Cacao Beans instead of processed forms of it.

Aren’t Cocoa and Cacao the same?

People often get confused when it comes to the difference between Cocoa and Cacao. However, if you are an ingredient scrutinizer you may have noticed that some chocolate products use the term Cocoa while some use Cacao.
Cacao directly comes from beautiful Cacao trees (Theobroma cacao) with colorful pods. The insides of these Cacao pods are filled with Cacao beans or seeds. The main difference between Cocoa and Cacao is, Cacao is the most basic, least processed form of chocolate. These beans go through a natural fermenting process and the fat is separated afterward which is known as Cacao Butter. The end result is Cacao Powder.
Although Cocoa is taken from the same source of Cacao beans, they are highly processed. Cocoa is usually going through high heat to be roasted, packed with preservatives, sweeteners, etc.(Did I mention heat destroys Vitamin C?) Some Cocoa products are “Dutch-processed” or “alkalized” which means the Cocoa is added with an alkaline solution in order to decrease its acidity. These processes flatten the bitter chocolate flavor and augment the Cocoa’s shelf life.

Taste-wise Cacao Powder, unsweetened Cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate taste the same. However, Cacao that is the least processed of them all is the best source of nutrition as it doesn’t lose its powerful properties after going through harsh processing.

The “Pow” In Cacao.  

“Cacao Beans stack up against any mineral or nutrient dense food in the world”,says David Wolfe,world authority on raw foods and superfoods.Cacao is high in flavonoids and magnesium because the nutritional profile is unblemished, unlike Cocoa.
Cacao nibs on the other hand that are crushed pieces of cacao beans contain a massive amount of nutrients.
In just 28 grams of cacao nibs provide 175 Calories, 3 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 6% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of Iron, 16% of the RDI of magnesium, 9% of the RDI of Phosphorus, 6% of the RDI of Zinc, 25% of the RDI of Copper and 27% of the RDI of Manganese.
Here are some of the fundamental benefits of Cacao Beans.

Reduces the risk of a variety of diseases

According to healthline.com, Cacao nibs are enriched with antioxidants. Antioxidants are a compound that can prevent your cells from getting harmed by excess molecules known as free radicals.
When there are more free radicals than antioxidants a condition called oxidative stress can increase the risk of diseases such as cancers, mental decline, heart disease, and diabetes.
Studies show that the flavonoids of the polyphenol antioxidants contained in Cacao are beneficial in preventing the above-listed diseases.

Cacao is known to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and augment good cholesterol levels (HDL) in our bodies making the chances of developing a cardiovascular disease low.

Another valuable upside of Cacao is, it supports blood sugar regulation because of the high content of blood-sugar stabilizing antioxidants.
A study had been conducted using 60 people and given 25 grams of high-polyphenol dark chocolate for 8 weeks straight every day.
These individuals have shown a great reduction in HbA1c (a long-term blood sugar control marker) and fasting blood sugar.

Moreover, Cacao is indeed quite healthy as it doesn’t include any added sugar.

You won’t feel tired

It is completely normal to have low energy levels because of bad sleeping habits. But, if you’re tired even after getting sufficient sleep, chances are you have a magnesium deficiency. Try having Cacao in the morning and you’ll see that your energy levels skyrocket throughout the day.

Too moody? Have Cacao

Anandamide content in Cacao, A.K.A. The bliss molecule is responsible for connecting with cannabinoid receptors that are located in the brain ultimately creating a happy sensation. Hence, Cacao helps with your mood swings by significantly increasing serotonin levels.

Have glowing skin

Cacao’s flavonoid content can vastly increase the blood flow from reaching the surface of the skin making it healthy and vibrant. Needless to say, the increased blood flow will support cell regeneration ultimately hastening the glow of your skin.
Not to mention, Cacao is filled with antioxidants that will protect your skin from premature aging.
You can make a Cacao face mask or just devour these amazing chocolate treats while relaxing.

May prevent tooth decaying

According to a study that had been conducted on Cacao beans revealed that a component called theobromine can fight tooth cavities better than fluoride. Chewing on a Cacao nib is beneficial rather than putting chemicals on your mouth because of its potential antibacterial agents that will harden the tooth enamel and prevent plaque.

Another study showed that toothpaste with theobromine is rather effective than the other kinds of fluoridated kids’ toothpaste that are commercially available.

No more constipation

Needless to say, Cacao beans are one of the best sources for the highest fiber and magnesium content. These will promote a healthy digestion system preventing constipation.

Improves brain power

The article, Enhancing Human Cognition with Cocoa Flavonoids suggests that Cacao is an effective source of sustaining cognitive performance in humans. The flavanols can be effective for general cognition, processing speed, vigilance, and memory.

The flavanols that are contained in Cacao get absorbed into the bloodstream. Then these flavanols are accumulated in the hippocampus which is the responsible region for memory and learning. Then these flavanols form new neurons and protect them from free radicals that can harm them.
Consequently, your cognitive abilities get enhanced in the long run.

Cough syrup or Cacao syrup?

Another study that was done by the British Lung Foundation identified that theobromine in Cacao beans is ideal as a treatment for cough. So next time when you get a pesky cough, make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate with raw Cacao.

Saying Good Night with A Cup Of Cacao

Undoubtedly, opting for Cacao Beans is one of the best choices you ever make in your life. Include Cacao nibs in your smoothie, morning oatmeal, lattes, cappuccinos, etc. You can use this superfood in your diet as a substitution for chocolate chips as well.

” Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”

-Hippocretes (460-370 B.C.)

NOTE * :

Although all material mentioned herein is based on scientific fact,it is for information purposes Only! And not intended to be a substitute to diagnose,treat or cure any health problems or mental disorders or any sympyoms thereof. Consult your Family or General Practitioner and/or Dietitian before starting any form of health regime.

About the author: NORMAND SAVOIE

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