The Health Benefits of Cacao
You may have heard of cacao, but did you know that cacao and cocoa are quite different? Let’s dive into the differences, learn about the health benefits of cacao, and find ways to sneak this supplement into your diet.
What is Cacao?
Simply put, cacao is the purest form of chocolate, and it’s now classified as a “superfood” which means it has certain antioxidants and nutritional benefits.
The cacao bean comes from the cacao tree that grows approx 10 degrees on either side of the equator. These beans are harvested by hand, then dried and fermented or milled (depending on the product). This process is done at a low temperature to keep the integrity of the cacao.
Different Forms of Cacao Products
Cacao Powder, Nibs, and Cacao extract (capsule or packet form) are all sources of cacao that can be readily found and used in your diet.
Use capsules as a daily supplement. Sprinkle nibs on trail mix, yogurt, or cookies. Substitute powders into smoothies and baking. You can easily integrate cacao into your lifestyle, no matter what your wellness goals are.
5 Health Benefits of Cacao
Cacao is more than just a healthier alternative to chocolate. Here are some of the most important health benefits.
The flavonoids (plant-based nutrients) found in cacao may help protect your heart against cardiovascular disease and stroke as cacao’s antioxidants help reduce bad cholesterol and improve blood circulation.
Cacao helps stimulate digestion and increases microbial activity, keeping you less bloated and more regular. How’s that for a natural, healthy treat?
If you’re looking to fight off free radicals, cacao might be for you. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, cacao is able to absorb a number of free radicals that cause aging, cell damage, and tissue damage.
High in Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, and Manganese
If you’re deficient in any of the above nutrients, try supplementing with cacao nibs. Each serving of raw organic cacao nibs contains:
- 35% daily magnesium
- 13% daily zinc
- 53% daily copper
- 53% daily manganese
Chocolate lovers often say chocolate makes them feel better. This may be true, however, regular chocolate is over processed, high in sugar, and high in fat. Like traditional chocolate, cacao contains natural “bliss chemicals” such as dopamine, anandamide, and phenylethylamine which are known mood enhancers. You can now have your chocolate treat and eat it too.
There are many health benefits of cacao to explore as this super-oxidant does so much. If you are a chocolate lover, ditch the processed stuff and get on board with a natural source that does your body good!
Wondering how to incorporate cacao into a recipe? Try this cacao souffle, perfect for Valentines Day or a lazy Sunday. Enjoy!
Tim McComsey is the founding owner of TRYM Fitness: Dallas’s Premier Personal Training and Nutrition Company, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Registered Dietitian. He started TRYM Fitness in 2011 and has been growing successfully ever since! This is his 15th year in the fitness industry and his scope of work has broadened from being ambassador to Sunwarrior, a partner to Vitamin World, and a sponsored athlete to 361usa shoes and apparel. He also contributes to Men’s Fitness Magazine and Human Fit Project with video and content production. Through his years in the industry he has placed 1st in several fitness competitions including the 2013 Dallas Europa Men’s Physique. His passion is to empower both men and women to be the healthiest and most fit they can be using various platforms.