Sunday, 22 July 2012

What is the hype about the super food – Raw Cacao?

Raw cacao powder is considered as one of the new super food. Why? It is supposed to contain antioxidants; magnesium and bliss nutrients that can help keep you energized, healthy and happy. 
It contains up to twice the amount of antioxidants of traditional Cocoa Powder made from roasted beans.

Why raw cacoa is good?
The raw cacoa is cold pressed from the nibs without solvents, and then fine-milled and sifted so the most bio-available cacao particles filter into the final product. As the temperature is never allowed to exceed 40°C, the powder is considered a ‘raw’ food with all heat-sensitive vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants remaining intact, thereby maximizing digestion and absorption.

Health benefits of raw cacao powder:

Raw Cacao beans contain 10 grams of flavonol antioxidants per 100 grams, which is an incredible 10%. Research has also demonstrated that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to human metabolism.

Magnesium for the Heart and Brain
Raw cacao is the primary dietary source of magnesium. Magnesium is the most important mineral for a healthy functioning heart. It also plays a key role in producing energy for the neurons in the brain from glucose. So when there is an abundance of magnesium the brain works with clarity and focus.

Mood elevators and Anti-depressants
Cacao is a great source of serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine (PEA), four well-studied neurotransmitters, which are associated with feelings of well being and help alleviate depression. Both PEA and Anandamide (the bliss chemical) are found in abundance in the brains of happy people and are particularly released when we are feeling happy. Both of these neurotransmitters are present in raw cacao in large enough quanitities to affect the brain and lift our moods. Cacao also contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) that keep neurotransmitters in the bloodstream for longer without being broken down.

Raw cacao is much more potent than the processed chocolate and doesn't have any sugar or  dairy products blocking the positive effects of all the goodies in raw cacao.

I wanted to find out if cacao is really different to cocoa and the below website states the difference as -
Cacao: pronounced Ka-Kow. Refers to the tree, its pods and the beans inside.
Cocoa: pronounced Koh-Koh. Refers to two by-products of the cacao bean – cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Both are extracted from the bean when it is processed in the factory.

According to FDA guidelines, cocoa powder and cacao powder are simply different terms for the same powder, and are nearly interchangeable; however, "cacao powder" specifically refers to raw, unsweetened powder. "Cocoa powder," on the other hand, may still have a very small amount of cocoa butter present to enhance the flavor subtly."

When looking for cacao powder, it's important to look at the nutritional labels. There are two forms of cacao powder -- the post-fermented powder obtained before the processor removes the cocoa butter and the powder obtained after separation. The raw cacao butter that hasn't been further processed to remove the butter still retains the natural fat from the cacao bean. 

Cocoa butter obtained after the separation process does not retain the fat from the cocoa butter. Refer to - ( )

Raw cacao powder can be added to milkshakes, smoothies and drizzled on ice creams and on muffins.
I had a beautiful smoothie made with raw cacao powder, almond milk and agave nectar in a vegetarian restaurant recently. If you are unable to get agave nectar, substitute it with raw honey for sweetness. You will be taken to heavenly bliss when tasting this smoothie.

Recipe for raw cacao powder almond smoothie:
3 cups cold milk
1 cup raw almonds
1 tbsp - sweet almond oil
¼ cup honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 pinch nutmeg powder
1 pinch cinnamon powder

Soak raw almonds overnight in hot water. Next day morning, grind the almonds in a blender until it becomes a smooth paste and to this add cold milk,sweet almond oil, honey/agave nectar, raw cacao powder and pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon powder and blend it again. Have it chilled and Enjoy!