Why Cacao or Cocoa Is So Healthy
Cocoa and cacao are often used interchangeably, but cacao, or unroasted cocoa, is healthier than cocoa, as the enzymes and proteins are still intact. However, cocoa is no slacker in the spectrum of healthy foods. It is not, however, a magic pill, and it is easily mixed with things that are not so healthy.
Cacao right off the tree is not edible. The beans must be fermented to reduce bitterness and enhance the flavor. Naturally occurring bacteria, from right off the plant do the fermenting, encouraged by the sweet white pulp that the seeds are cased within. This pulp can be made into vinegar later. The skins of the seeds are removed, and the beans are made into raw nibs, paste, powder, and butter.
Cocoa is made by roasting the cacao seeds and then grinding them. The cocoa is blended with other ingredients to make chocolate.
Cocoa actually contains very little caffeine, but instead uses a distant chemical relative, theobromine, which is a stimulant as well.
But the real health benefit of cacao is the antioxidants that it contains. Cacao ranks high on the list of superfoods for antioxidant content, and this is beneficial to the immune system, helping to reduce damage and stress that our modern environment puts on the body. Raw cacao is much higher in these chemicals, and flavanoids and polyphenols, than processed cocoa. They are more stable and easier to absorb.
The flavenoids in cacao serve to relax the walls of the cardiovascular system by producing nitric oxide, mechanically reducing blood pressure.
And there are other chemicals in cacao that serve as anti-inflammatory agents.
All that goodness is bundled in a tasty package that also contains mood-lifting PEA and Anandamide, which elevate the spirits and help with focus and alertness.
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