Love chocolate but abhor all that sugar? Fear not. Raw, unsweetened cacao preserves the nutritional benefits that are lost when cocoa is roasted and processed into chocolate, while sacrificing none of its flavour. Theobroma Cacao trees (“food of the Gods” in Greek) are native to Mexico and Central and South America, where they’ve been a prized food and commodity for millennia. The industry has its unhealthy side, as producers and workers struggle to cash in on the global cacao craze.
- raw organic cacao is rich in flavonoids, which provide the antioxidants that protect cells from damage.
- an excellent source of iron, but an even better source of magnesium
- like dark chocolate, cacao stimulates endorphins, the natural hormones that make us feel good
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
When you use cacao for baking, heat will destroy many of its superior nutritional qualities. One chef suggests using cocoa and reserving the far more expensive cacao for smoothies and raw desserts. There’s an ethical dilemma to be considered as well. The working conditions on cacao farms are notoriously hard, and workers often poorly paid. If you’re going to spend the money, go all the way and purchase Fair Trade cacao.