Have you heard that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, and in small doses, it can be beneficial to your health? If you’re a chocolate lover, this is probably music to your ears! Dark chocolate contains iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. Studies have shown that it can even help lower blood pressure and prevent oxidative damage.
There’s only one problem with getting your daily dose of dark chocolate: you might not actually be eating real chocolate.
Cocoa Vs. Cacao
If you’re giving in to your sweet tooth, it’s important to make sure that the chocolate you’re eating is actually providing you with health benefits. That candy bar you grabbed at the checkout line probably isn’t cutting it. There’s a difference between the cocoa in an average chocolate bar and real cacao. Cocoa is processed cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures, while cacao is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. The process of making cacao preserves all of the antioxidants in the chocolate. Roasting the cacao to make cocoa actually destroys the antioxidants in the chocolate.
Hershey’s and other popular chocolate brands sell products that aren’t really chocolate. During the manufacturing process, cocoa butter is mixed with vegetable oils. This is a cheaper way to make the chocolate, but the final product often ends up containing sugar, high fructose corn syrup or soy lecithin, which can be dangerous to your health.
Soy lecithin contains genetically modified soy, along with soy phytoestrogens that may promote an increased risk of breast cancer in adult women. Soy lecithin also contains a compound called feinstein that can have negative effects on fertility and reproduction. Studies have shown that soy lecithin can affect immature brain cells, leading to impeded brain development. While the Hershey’s bars in the candy isle might look tempting, eating them can put your body at risk for many health issues.
Health Benefits Of Raw Cacao
Pure cacao contains more antioxidants than blueberries and acai. It’s also rich in minerals! It contains iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese. Cacao also contains flavonoids that are believed to have cancer-fighting properties. If you’re eating processed chocolate, you aren’t reaping the same health benefits. Cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed dark chocolate. Processed chocolate also contains dairy, which blocks the absorption of antioxidants.
Health benefits of raw cacao include:
- It may help prevent cancer
- It can improve memory loss
- It can improve your vision
- It can boost your mood
- It reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
- It protects your nervous system
- It lowers blood pressure
DIY Real Chocolate Recipe
All dark chocolate is not created equal! In order to reap the health benefits, you have to ensure that you’re eating real chocolate. To make your own at home, you only need three ingredients!
- 1/2 cup of organic cacao powder
- 1/2 cup of virgin coconut oil
- 4-6 tablespoons of raw honey
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium size bowl. Use more honey for sweeter chocolate. You can also swap out coconut oil for cacao butter for creamier chocolate.
- Put the mixture into molds and place in the freezer for about one hour.
- Take your chocolate out of the freezer a few minutes before serving and enjoy!