If Cacao powder is something unfamiliar to you let me start by saying it is a antioxidant powerhouse and a powerful stimulant. And Has Been Known To Aid In Weight Loss!
So what can we can get from cacao? Here are the vitamins and minerals, plus the benefits we can obtain from it:
Folate. This vitamin is essential in the formation of new cells, making DNA and RNA, and in haemoglobin production which carries oxygen in the red blood cells.
Cacao also contains small amounts of vitamins B6, E, K, and choline.
Magnesium. Cacao has the highest amount of this mineral among all foods. It is essential for muscle relaxation, transmission of nerve signals, and formation of bone and teeth. It is a factor in secreting parathyroid hormone which is responsible for controlling calcium levels in the blood, and it helps the body in processing fat and protein. And is essential for women at a certain time of month…
Iron: Best known for the production and function of haemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood. We can get 314% of the recommended daily intake of this mineral from just 28 grams of cacao powder.
Antioxidants:But the most beneficial factor we can get from cacao powder is its flavanoids particularly catechin and epicatechin, which are antioxidants. Cacao contains more antioxidants than the other foods famous for the same feature such as blueberries, acai berries, and goji berries. Take a certain amount of cacao powder and 10% of its weight is the antioxidants.
These antioxidants fight free radicals that damage millions of the body’s cells which results to ageing and the development of cancer. They also prevent oxidation of the LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood, thus preventing risk of atherosclerosis, stroke, and cardiac arrest.
Sulfur. We need sulfur for healthy nails, hair, and skin. It is also important for the formation of collagen which is the protein found in the connective tissue in the body.
Potassium. This mineral, needed mostly by athletes, is responsible for normal muscle cell function including the heart. Healthy nerve cells, adrenal glands, and kidneys also require potassium. It lowers blood pressure and controls blood acidity as well.
Calcium. Aside from being the main building blocks of the bones and teeth, this is also an important mineral for muscle contraction and blood clotting.
Phosphorus. This is important for the formation of adenosine triphosphate which is the energy we get from the metabolism of glucose and fatty acids.
Zinc. It is an essential mineral which aids in the healing of wounds, supports healthy immune system, and the healthy growth and development of the body during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.
Copper. This has similar roles in the body as zinc. We also need copper for the growth of new blood vessels and the generation and the storage of energy in mitochondria.
Manganese. This is important for healthy brain and nerve function. Moreover, it is involved in proper calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. Thus is seen to be helpful in treating diabetes along with osteoporosis, arthritis, epilepsy, and premenstrual syndrome.
Moving on to the benefits, cacao powder is known to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein or LDL which is considered the “bad cholesterol” in our body while increasing the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
It regulates blood glucose – as mentioned already – and fat metabolism. The flavinoids in cacao powder has been known to increase production of the hormone called adiponectin which controls metabolism of fatty acids and blood glucose levels therefore aiding in weight loss and reducing risk of diabetes.
People often ask me how to lose weight the healthy way and I suggest cacao for many reasons but the two that stand out the most is Adiponectin as mentioned above but it is not the only factor that causes weight loss. Consumption of cacao also results in production of protein-2 which is a thermogenic protein. This means that your body is burning more than normal amount of energy. The heat emitted by this kind of energy production burns some more calories while also maintaining good body temperature.
Cacao powder is high in dietary fibre, too. As we all know, fibre absorbs the water in the body’s large intestine which makes people regularly eliminate solid stools. It sweeps “waste” in the intestinal walls thus helping in a person’s weight loss.
Now that we know more about what comprises cacao, we should also learn some other information still not known by many. One such fact is that though cacao powder contains a lot of calcium, it is better to turn to other sources because of the high presence of oxalic acid in cacao which prevents the absorption of the mineral.
Second is the antioxidant activity found in cacao, and other forms such as cocoa. We look at the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score of a certain food to know how much antioxidant benefit we can get from it – the higher the score the higher the antioxidant activity.
Raw cacao powder is said to have the higher ORAC score at 95 500 μ mol TE/100g as compared to the score of its cousin, the roasted cocoa powder, at 26 000 μ mol TE/100gt. This means that raw cacao powder has 3.67 times more antioxidant activity than the cocoa powder.
This is because the way these powders are produced affects the antioxidant activity it contains. The variables are temperature and pH level in particular. Raw cacao powders are usually produced in third world countries where equipment and more time are not actually available. So instead, the cacao beans are fermented under the sun. The only main concern with this procedure is that heat cannot be controlled; therefore there is the chance that the product might get “cooked.”
Let’s look at the roasted cocoa powders on the other hand. There are two types: natural and Dutch-processed. Natural cocoa powder is made by hydraulically pressing the cocoa paste or liquor to remove the fat component, cocoa butter. This process creates a lot of heat which is usually 150 degrees Celsius and above. Dutch-processed cocoa powder has the same way of production except that it goes through a special step at the start to make it less bitter than the natural: the beans are soaked in potassium carbonate to alkalize acidity.
In all of these, though cannot really be guaranteed as “raw,” raw cacao powder is the best choice if you are going after the antioxidants because it undergoes the least processing. Second in the rank would be the natural processed. The procedure of alkalizing Dutch-processed cocoa powder has been seen to greatly reduce its ORAC score, making it 90% less antioxidant than the natural.
It is important to note that dairy products reduce antioxidant absorption. This is the rationale behind dark chocolates being “healthier” than milk chocolates. So if you want some milk in your hot chocolate, use the non-dairy ones such as rice, soy, or almond milk.
Lastly, though cacao powder is proven to be high source of antioxidants, some people might be better off finding other sources of this– especially those who are suffering from palpitations. Cacao and cocoa powders do not contain caffeine as most of us believe. But it does contain a non-addictive stimulant which is called theobromine. It has less effect on the nervous system but stronger effect on the heart than caffeine. It can cause headaches to some as well.
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