I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I do have a strong affinity to chocolate. Due to the fact I have a hard time resisting devouring a few too many pieces of chocolate after dinner I have been on the hunt for better options.
Which brings me to today’s herb: cacao.
Yes, technically all chocolate has cacao in it, but, often by the time that cacao has made it to your store bought chocolate bar, it is not a strong enough percentage to reap the benefits of this magical plant AND is often combined with a whole lot of sugar and other less desirable ingredients.
Most commercial chocolate bars have too much sugar and not enough cacao content to be supportive to health.
So yes, what I am saying is this: cacao is good for you!
Again, moderation, as with everything, is key. Also, with cacao, it is important to be aware of where it is sourced from. Unfortunately, planting and harvesting this plant is often tied to child labor and unfair labor practices.
So, be on the look-out for fair trade and ethically sources products!
Cacao has a very distinct flavor and can take some getting used to. Some like to work their way up to consuming 100% cacao, but try to find dark chocolate that has a minimum of 70% cacao. This information is easy to find and is usually on the front label. Once you are ready, the healthiest way to use this herb in your diet is with 100% cacao, like cacao nibs or cacao powder.
Curious about the difference between cacao and cocao?
Some of cacaos amazing benefits are:
Mood enhancer – well duh, chocolate is delicious! But seriously, with constituents like theobromine and caffeine, it’s a definite pick me up! (use moderately is sensitive to these things)
Heart health – high in flavonoids and antioxidants, improves blood flow to the heart, lowers high blood pressure, prevents clots.
Energy boost – high polyphenol, plus low caffeine content
Blood sugar levels – improves insulin resistance and glucose metabolism
One of my favorite summer afternoon treats with cacao:
- One frozen banana
- One cup coconut milk or cream (I like mine thick so I use 85%)
- Cacao nibs
Place all ingredients in food processor and combine until creamy smooth and enjoy!