Why Raw Chocolate?
Raw cacao has a large concentration of minerals such as magnesium and sulfur, both of which are central to many of the body’s processes. It also contains enzyme inhibitors that help sustain the amount of the chemical andandamide in our bodies. Andandamide contributes to feelings of happiness in the brain.
Cooking and processing dilutes the nutritional value of cacao. Cacao naturally contains small amounts of caffeine. However, the aromatic and tannic substances released during the roasting process amplify its effects and have also been known to contribute to insomnia, anxiety and mood swings.
So how do you reap the health benefits of dark chocolate? The answer: raw, organic chocolate. Here are two ways this nutritionally-rich and complex food can be enjoyed:
1. Cocoa Nibs
One of the best ways to consume organic raw cacao is in the form of cacao nibs. Similar to chocolate chips, they are great as an addition to trail mix, yogurt or blended into a chocolate shake. They are unroasted and often unsweetened but taste like true chocolate.
2. Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder has the largest amount of flavanols, which research suggests may help protect the body from disease. It’s also high in antioxidants. It is the least processed form of cacao and contains no fillers. You can use raw organic cocoa powder to make soy ice cream, smoothies or coconut water shakes. Dairy products may inhibit the absorption of the antioxidants in chocolate, so blend cocoa powder into non-dairy products.
What To Buy
The majority of cacao products on the market today are made from roasted beans and aren’t the place to derive maximum nutritional value. Organic raw cacao is the best option and is easily found in health food and some grocery stores. In the absence of raw, organic chocolate, the next healthiest form of chocolate is organic dark chocolate, particularly unsweetened or bittersweet. Milk chocolate should not be considered healthy in any way given the fats, oils and refined sugars it contains.