The Health Benefits Of Raw Cacao
There’s good news for chocolate lovers: raw cacao — cocoa’s lesser-known relative — is chock full of health benefits. And while it may taste a little different to your favourite bar of brown stuff, this Amazonian superfood contains none of the processed sugar, saturated fat or additives that can make its cocoa cousin so unhealthy.
Still not convinced? Here are five health reasons to start snacking on cacao.
What is raw cacao?
Both cocoa and raw cacao come from the edible seeds (also known as cacao pods or beans) of the Theobroma cacao tree — a small tropical tree native to the rainforests of South America .
Cocoa is made by roasting these cacao beans at high temperatures. Unfortunately, many of the plant’s health benefits are stripped away in this process, and huge amounts of sugar and fat are typically added before the product becomes chocolate, too.
Raw cacao, on the other hand, involves neither high temperatures nor additives. It is the purest form of chocolate available. This nutrient-packed superfood is simply made by cold-pressing the unroasted cocoa beans from the tree, preserving many of the plant’s natural health benefits .
Let’s look at some of these benefits in more detail.
1. Raw cacao is rich in a number of essential minerals
Magnesium, sulfur, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese and potassium — raw cacao has them all. In particular, this nutritional powerhouse is packed full of magnesium. In fact, raw cacao is thought to be one of the best food sources of magnesium there is. This important mineral supports a number of critical functions in the body, from regulating blood pressure to boosting the immune system and maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscles. 
2. It can help lower cholesterol levels
Forget red wine and green tea — raw cacao is one of the best sources of flavonoids around. These antioxidants help protect the body from ageing, sun damage and disease by preventing free radicals from forming and reducing inflammation. What’s more, flavonoids have also been proven to lower blood pressure, and these plant compounds can help to prevent blood clots and improve circulation to the brain and heart, too .
3. It can make you happy
Raw cacao powder contains an active substance called phenylethylamine (PEA) that’s made naturally in our brains. PEA stimulates the body to produce a number of chemicals that can boost your mood and acts as a natural stimulant, too  & . What’s more, cacao is high in zinc and magnesium too — minerals needed to produce the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin.
4. It can give you an energy boost
Supercharging your diet with raw cacao powder can also help to combat tiredness. That’s because not only does raw cacao contain a little caffeine, it’s also one of the highest plant-based sources of non-heme iron known to man. Iron is essential for a number of bodily functions, including hormone production and the maintenance of healthy skin, hair and nails. 
Importantly, this essential mineral also supports the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. If your body can’t get enough oxygen, it becomes fatigued. In addition, raw cacao also contains a compound called theobromine, which can boost energy, reduce inflammation and temporarily improve cognitive function 
5. It’s good for your bones
Raw cacao is also rich in calcium, the compound that helps to build strong bones when you’re young and is necessary to maintain bone health as you age. In fact, raw cacao actually contains more calcium than cow’s milk. And calcium has other benefits too — it’s needed for muscle movement and it plays a strong supporting role in keeping your nervous system healthy as well