Chocolate in the Raw: What You Need to Know About the King of Decadence

Source | Lisa Fotios

Source | Lisa Fotios

Chocolate is the most seductive food known to man.

Well, according to me. As a child growing up, chocolate was my best friend and it was typically in a form of a devil’s food cake slices. I savored every bite. My mother would look at me and giggled witnessing my sheer happiness on my face.

As an adult, the sweet never left but my choices have become more refined. I prefer the soulful taste of dark chocolate. Its smooth texture and savory taste took some time to get used to after years of consuming milk chocolates. Like black coffee, it became a staple and the fact that is healthier, even more so.

Let’s take a deeper look into what exactly chocolate is:

Cacao refers to the fresh beans and pods right before they are dried and fermented. After the fermentation process, the cacao is now referred to as Cocoa.

The Raw Cacao has become popular in the health conscious movement, but raw doesn’t necessarily equate to raw. It’s just a fancy way of referring to a natural cocoa. I believe the words “Raw Cacao” is just a clever marketing word to keep the “healthy” view of cocoa powder intact. Plus, it is not even raw! It goes through a process of drying, fermentation, roasting and grinding.  If you want the true essence of chocolate, just eat the cocoa bean from the pod at a farm!

Cocoa beans contain more antioxidants than red wine, berries, and tea. It has the potential to improve metabolic function, lowers blood pressure, improve cognitive skills, protect against memory loss and other inflammatory effects.

There is a thought circulating that the more antioxidants, the better it is for your health; but too much of a good thing can come with a price to pay. Harvard Medical School researchers conducted an ongoing study led by Dr. Joann Manson. The team discovered that 600 milligrams of cocoa flavanols is the ideal amount to rake in the benefits and avoid unwanted side effects like worsen anxiety, high blood pressure and certain heart conditions to name a few.

Just so you are aware, the subjects weren’t eating huge amounts of decadent chocolate cake. Each day, they were given two pills of isolated flavanols. Besides, it hard to get in 600 milligrams from consuming chocolate and there are many reasons why:

✔ There are several types of cacao and there can be 50 percent forms of polyphenols

✔ Once cacao is fermented, the remaining polyphenols reduces to half of its original amount

✔ When dried by the sun’s rays, the remaining polyphenols drops to a quarter percent

✔ To make chocolate, cocoa powder and everything else in the realm of chocolateness, cocoa beans need to be roasted, grounded and processed into smooth chocolate. This entire operation reduces the polyphenols to 10 percent

The more cocoa bean processing, the less chocolate power. Bummer.

To get the magical antioxidant essence from chocolate, you would have to eat over two pounds of milk chocolate. Definitely not worth the health risks!

However if chocolate is your bestie and you’re looking for a health reason to continue keeping the sweetness in your life, here are your options:

Natural cocoa powder is made from defatted cocoa beans and can be added to your daily smoothies or mix it in your almond or peanut butter. Look for the real stuff not the Dutch processed or alkalized. Sneak in at least 5 tablespoons every day to reap the benefits and don’t worry, it is low in calories.

Look for high-percent chocolate bars, like 100 percent chocolate with no added sugar. Go heavy on the cocoa and easy on the sugar and other ingredients, like milk. Please note that these are not your typical Snickers bar, this is class for your taste buds. 

Enjoy that piece of chocolate, guilt-free because it is great for your health and it lifts your mood! Just be sure to keep it 100!