If you’ve got your ear to the ground you will no doubt have been hearing about cacao powder benefits. However, there’s plenty of confusion surrounding raw cacao – what is it? Are the snack bars, protein powders and spreads (read: Pip and Nut) that list cacao also healthy?
They’re all worth-while questions. Especially considering how many food bloggers, nutritionists and PTs sprinkle the brown stuff on their smoothie bowls. And let’s not forget that time Daisy Lowe shared her cacao smoothie, or when 42 Juice whipped up an exclusive sweet cacao ice lolly recipe for you.
Read on for why cacao powder benefits aren’t fake news.
First off, what is cacao?
“The botanical name for the cacao tree is theobroma cacao, which roughly translates as ‘food of the gods’,” states Motion Nutrition. In reality it’s the unprocessed chocolate superfood that’s turbocharged with magnesium flavanoids, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese to name a few. As raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans these nutritional wins aren’t lost during processing.
Four Cacao powder benefits
Raw cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium – a mineral that many of you lack from your diet. Magnesium is essential for energy production, for a healthy brain and nervous system, for our muscles and for strong bones and teeth. Magnesium may also support a healthy blood pressure.
Cacao is a source of iron, which builds the blood and helps to transport oxygen around our body, as well as potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and selenium.
Cacao can also be high in flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity. Raw cacao and flavonoid-rich chocolate have been linked with heart health benefits including increasing the good form of cholesterol (HDL) in our blood, lowering blood pressure and even improving vascular function in patients with congestive heart failure. These effects are thought to be primarily due to the antioxidants contained in the cacao.
In addition, cacao contains a compound called phenylethylamine (PEA for short!). PEA is thought to elevate mood and