Chances are, your local supermarket shelves are lined with chocolate bunnies and eggs right now. They’re full of sugar and they don’t offer any nutrition. So what’s a health conscious chocolate lover to do? Explore some better options of course. |
What’s the Difference?
If you’ve ever made a chocolate dessert, you’re probably familiar with cocoa powder. Lately, there’s been a rise in recipes and products involving carob and cacao, too. You may have even see these ingredients used interchangeably on occasion. If you don’t know the difference, you’re missing out on some major health benefits. Let’s take a closer look.
Did you know that carob is actually a legume that grows on a tree? It has a milder and sweeter taste than cacao and it contains more fibre. There is no caffeine in carob unlike cacao, although it is very low. Carob is also lacking in the nutrient department and doesn’t contain the same large amounts of minerals that are found in cacao. It’s a better choice than regular chocolate, but if you’re looking for serious health benefits, it’s not your best bet.
Hot cocoa, cocoa brownies, cocoa fudge – the possibilities are endless. Cocoa is derived from the cacao tree, but that’s where the similarities between the two really end. Creating cocoa from cacao is an intense process. After being fermented, dried, cleaned and roasted, your left with only a small amount of nutrients. The high heat involved in processing destroys any major health benefits and simply makes the product more baking friendly.
Chocolate is the most processed form of cacao. All of those chocolate bunnies floating around this time of year are just full of sugar. Manufacturers use sugar, milk and cream to create a smooth texture and a less bitter flavour. This addicting combination is devoid of any nutrients. My recommendation is to leave the bunnies on the shelf. There’s something better waiting for you.
Raw cacao powder is made from beans of the cacao plant. It is not roasted or processed, and you won’t find any sugar or unhealthy additives here. Cacao is often used in raw dessert recipes for its health benefits and rich flavour. Let’s examine the benefits of this tasty superfood.
Benefits of Cacao
Cacao contains calcium, magnesium, essential fatty acids and more. It’s packed full of antioxidants that help combat disease and fight aging. The combination of nutrients in cacao has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and improve heart function, as well as improve mood. Unlike conventional cocoa and chocolate, which are overly processed, cacao maintains its beneficial micronutrients so you can enjoy its rich flavour and health benefits together.
A Word of Caution
Keep in mind that cacao is a strong stimulant that was traditionally used for medicinal and sacred purposes. It is very addictive, and puts a great amount of stress on the liver, kidneys and adrenals. I recommend that you enjoy cacao as it was intended, in small amounts. Pay attention to any changes in sleep, mood or energy levels, as these can be signs it’s time to cut back your cacao intake.
Do you have a favourite cacao treat? Share yours by commenting below.
For more natural health tips visit our blog at: http://www.alkalife.com.au/blog
Related Articles -
cacao benefits, cacao vs carob, cacao vs cocoa, carob, carob benefits, chocolate, cocoa, easter, healthy alternative to chocolate, sugar, sugar free, ,