I first started experimenting with raw cacao a couple years ago after experiencing cacao ceremonies while on a retreat. It was love at first sip.
I knew cacao was known for the wide variety of health benefits it offers but what I was not expecting was how incredibly grounding it was. No coffee like jitters and the ability to make it a little different every day. Some days adding cinnamon, some turmeric or coconut oil. I finally understood why it is often referred to the Earth’s natural cup of love.
What is cacao?
Cacao is found in a large yellowish, red, green or sometimes brown pod that grows on trees in Central and South America. Inside the pods you’ll find small cacao beens wrapped in a white pith similar to a Mandarin orange.
It has been used by locals for thousands of year! South American civilizations have been said to have traded it and use it as currency and the Mayans and Aztecs were known to have sipped it for its medicinal benefits. Safe to say, for centuries civilization has had our chocolate game on lock down.
Cacao can be found on the market as powder, butter, nibs or melted into a chocolate bar. Often added with other ingredients. See below what to look out for when purchasing. Raw cacao is very bitter in taste so it is often paired with large amounts of sugar. Opt to buy cacao raw and add your own sweetener like organic honey, coconut sugar, stevia or monk fruit.
I become a number 1 fan of this natural healthy chocolate not just for the taste either. Cacao offers a large variety of health benefits.
-99.9% of my audience when they hear the word healthy in the same sentence as chocolate.
For the other .01%, here’s a few points on the incredible health benefits cacao offers:
*Please keep in mind these are benefits that have been studied with the use of raw cacao. This means without any additives. So no, you can’t eat a chocolate bar a day and expect these results.
Health benefits of cacao:
- More then 20x the amount of antioxidants then blueberries
- More calcium than cow’s milk. (Vegan fist pump!)
- High amounts of iron and magnesium
- Boosts energy and mood
- One of the most potent sources of polyphenols. This aids in supporting healthy levels of cholesterol, reducing inflammation and supporting cognitive function as it increased the flow of blood to your brain.
- Can reduce blood pressure
- Antibacterial and immune boosting
- Natural aphrodisiac (chocolate and valentines day with a splash of Hallmark marketing… are we making the connection now?)
What to look for when buying cacao:
Cacoa and cacao are both derived from the cacao plant, however cacoa is often cut with milk powders and sugar. Always be sure to read the ingredient list first.
Where to buy raw cacao:
Raw cacao can be found at most health markets and grocery stores. It can also be purchased online. Here are my top 4 favourite places to buy it.
Four Sigmatic Cacao Mix– use code: charamarie for discount
The Cacao Connection– This was the first cacao I ever had on my retreat. It is direct from the farmers in Belize. A small company that I truly love.
Organikka Cacao Maca– I am a huge fan of maca and it’s benefits. This mix is amazing for energy and balancing hormones.
Organic Traditions Cacao– No additives, organic and straight to the point cacao. Great for hot chocolate and baking!
Here are a few different ways I have incorporated cacao into delicious recipes:
Have you used cacao? I’d love to see your creations.
Tag @chara.marie to share!