The Superfood Lowdown: Raw Cacao

Raw cacao is easily the most popular superfood in Pollen HQ - it's one of the main foods that really makes us realise just how great nature is. It satisfies even the most insistent of chocolate cravings, feels entirely indulgent and that's before we've even touched on the energy boosting properties. Starting work at 6am most days, a 'boost' of some sort is occasionally needed by mid-morning, and as much as we love coffee, we don't love coffee every day, so recently we mixed up a blend of raw cacao, raw cacao nibs, almond mylk and maple to see if that would do the job instead - let's just say we were ready to go clubbing rather than make hummus. But other than for energy, and of course the taste, why should we get adding raw cacao to our diets? We take a look as part of our superfood series. 

RAW CACAO POWDER

About: Originating from the foothills of the Andes mountains, cacao beans grow in pods on trees in tropical climates. The pods are collected and cut open, to collect the cocoa beans from inside which are then dried and the skins removed. It was considered the drink of the gods by the Incas, thus getting it's scientific name, Theobroma (Theo: God, Broma: drink). The pods grow on the branches and trunk of the trees, and when ripe, look similar to a long, thin pumpkin. 

Nutritional Breakdown: Raw Cacao is one of the highest sources of magnesium, essential for energy production, a healthy brain and muscle growth. It is also a source of iron, which helps transport oxygen around the body, as well as potassium, copper, zinc, manganese and selenium. It contains over 700 compounds as well as complex antioxidants which help reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent hardening of the arteries.

WHY IT'S GOOD FOR YOU

Energy Boosting: Containing 53mg of magnesium per 2tbsp, raw cacao is one of the richest natural sources of magnesium which helps to increase energy levels (quickly and significantly as we learnt) as well as combat fatigue. 

Mood Improving: A genuine happy food, and not just because of how good it tastes. Cacao contains anandamide, known as the bliss molecule, which improves your mood and creates a feeling of euphoria.

A Natural Aphrodisiac: Another mood-enhancing compound found in cacao is PEA (phenethylamine), which triggers the release of endorphins and pleasure reactors - the same that are released naturally in the bedroom, or when we fall in love. The same compounds also help naturally improve libido. 

Hormone + Mood Balancing: Raw cacao boosts brain levels of serotonin, the feel good brain chemical, which decreases during PMS. Raw cacao is proven to boost the brain levels of calming hormones again and restore positive feelings.

Heart Health: Raw cacao is rich in flavanols, an anti-inflammatory and heart protective antioxidant, which helps protect against  cardiovascular disease and improves blood circulation.

Skin Health: Containing polyphenol antioxidants, which protect cells from premature oxidation and destruction, raw cacao is great for keeping skin healthy and youthful. The flavanols also help increase skin hydration and texture.   

We use raw cacao almost daily in Pollen HQ, and also add it to both our raw cacao protein bar as well as the granola in our cacao + ginger crumble pot - both in high enough doses to not only taste great, but also feel the benefits!