Ahhh, Chocolate! Who doesn’t love a wonderful piece of good quality chocolate now and then? Valentine’s Day simply wouldn’t be the same without chocolate and roses! But can chocolate really be guilt-free indulgence? Absolutely – if it is the right kind of chocolate!
There are many types of chocolate in the supermarkets and health food stores these days. All types of chocolate are not equal, even though all chocolate starts out equal, from the same origin. All chocolate comes from the cacao bean, once called ‘the food of the Gods’, which is produced by a flowering jungle tree. It is the processing of that raw cacao bean, and the additives that are put into the raw cacao that make the chocolate healthy, or not. Chocolate is generally made from two kinds of cacao powder: roasted or raw. Although the word cacao (pronounced ka-kow) generally refers to the raw beans, and the word cocoa generally refers to roasted beans – these words are used interchangeably.
Cocoa (Roasted cacao):
Regular cocoa powder that is typically found in most grocery stores is made from roasted, ground cacao beans and most of the cacao butter (fat) has been removed.
Roasting or cooking the cacao beans destroys almost all of the health qualities of the cacao. When you add loads of sugar, some dairy, various artificial flavors and fillers to the cocoa powder – there is really no nutrition left in it. A typical inexpensive chocolate candy bar is made from roasted cocoa powder and has plenty of sugar, et al.
Raw cacao powder is from cacao beans that are unroasted and ground into powder, with most of the cacao butter (fat) removed. In it’s raw state, cacao has many nutrients and health benefits. The cacao butter itself also has some health benefits. Raw cacao is considered a ‘superfood’.
Healthy raw chocolates or chocolate bars can easily be made by gently heating cacao butter (or some coconut oil) at a low temperature so that it remains raw, then adding raw cacao powder to it, along with a small amount of a healthy sweetener and some pure flavoring. This produces a very dark, rich, healthy chocolate – with all the nutrients intact.
What is the nutritional profile of raw cacao?
Raw cacao contains:
- Vitamin C
- Omega 6 fatty acids
About the percentage of cacao in a chocolate bar…
Generally speaking – the amount of cacao contained in a chocolate bar indicates how healthy a chocolate bar is. The more cacao a chocolate bar contains (example 70% to 80%, dark chocolate) the healthier the chocolate bar is for you, because there is a lot of cocao and fewer additives, including sugar. The less cacao a chocolate bar contains, the less healthy it is for you (example 20%, milk chocolate, etc) because there are a lot of additives such as sugar and unhealthy fillers.
So, when you go for that sweet, guilt-free chocolate indulgence on Valentine’s Day or any other day – consider the health benefits of dark chocolate. The higher the cacao content, the healthier it is! Even better – consider making your own raw, dark chocolates.
It is easy, and it is the ultimate in healthy chocolate! Click here for the recipe.
To find out more about the health benefits of chocolate – click here.
Superfoods – Book by David Wolfe
Copyright © 2015 Cathy Ormon Health Coach. All rights reserved.