Ever wondered what is cacao powder and what are its benefits? Cacao natively comes from tropical areas of the Amazon and offers many amazing benefits. So many in fact, that by the end of this article, we are sure that you will be rocket-launching yourself into the kitchen to bake up a chocolatey storm. After all, who doesn’t love chocolate?
Cacao comes from the beans inside pods that grow on the Cacao tree. These beans are harvested and processed into cocoa products. If you want to know the difference between what is cacao and cocoa powder, then you might be surprised that it’s all in the way it’s processed.
What is cacao powder?
Cacao powder is the raw version of cocoa. It is the least processed version of the two, which makes it more nutritious and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It is considered bitter in taste, but the taste is something that is worth sacrificing if it means getting all of those nutritious qualities.
What is cocoa?
Cocoa is made from the same raw cacao powder but is roasted at high temperatures. This destroys all the good stuff, greatly reducing the nutritional content. Most chocolate manufacturers use the processed version of cocoa for taste reasons. Lucky organic cacao powder is readily available to purchase, so you can make your own healthy chocolate recipes.
1. Antioxidants and Flavonoids
Cacao is packed with flavonoids which are part of the polyphenol antioxidants family. What is cacao powder flavonoids useful for? Flavonoids benefit the body by looking after your body's cardiovascular system and may help in reducing your risk of stroke, asthma, cancer and heart disease. For each gram of cacao, you will find 43.6 milligrams of flavonoids. Because cacao is packed with antioxidants, it also may help in reducing the effects of aging, helping you to stay more youthful and vibrant for longer. Antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory effects which can help with reducing inflammation and restore balance to your body.
2. It may act as an antidepressant
For those of you who need a little ‘pick me up’ during a blue day, you could try incorporating organic cacao into your diet to help release happy hormones and elevate your mood. Cocoa contains phenylethylamine, which acts as a natural antidepressant to the brain. This is most likely why we find ourselves reaching for a chocolate bar on a down day. Though in saying this, eating non-organic cocoa with other harmful ingredients added into it, may do more harm than good.
3. Helps to improve brain power and health
The flavanols in cacao help produce nitric oxide, this assists in relaxing blood vessels and improves blood supply and flow to your brain. They also help with the manufacturing of neurons in the brain. Cacao helps to give you a boost of brain power, making it a great addition to your lunch to help prevent 3:30-itis and brain fog.
4. Cacao may help with weight control
Your regular milk chocolate will not help with weight loss as it is packed with additives, sugar, processed ingredients and bad fats. However, if you consume 80%+ organic chocolate, you will be happy to know that it may help with your weight loss.
It is said that cacao has been known to help reduce appetite (by helping you feel full), increase fat oxidation, decrease inflammation and regulate your energy use. If you are wondering what is cacao powder useful for and are looking for ways to help maintain or lose weight, then now you have a great excuse to whip up some healthy homemade chocolate recipes.
5. Cacao contains magnesium
Magnesium is essential for many of your body’s natural reactions. A magnesium deficiency can cause a rise in cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, muscle weakness and fatigue.
Magnesium has been known to help reduce sore muscles after a workout. This is because magnesium may help with managing neuromuscular signals and muscle contractions, along with helping to relax your muscles.
The magnesium in cacao may also help relieve and treat those nasty migraines we get from time to time. Migraines always pop up when they are least convenient, but this may all be because of magnesium deficiency. By Introducing cacao into your regular diet, you just might experience fewer migraines. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Getting enough magnesium from your diet is essential to feeling healthy and energised. It is recommended that for women aged 18 - 50 to consume between 320 mg and 360 mg per day. But we advise asking your doctor or nutritionist about the amount of magnesium you need for your individual dietary requirements.
6. Calcium absorption and bone health
Because cacao powder contains magnesium, it may help in calcium absorption, therefore contributing to bone health and reducing the chances of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and kidney stones. If you are taking supplements for calcium, the addition of magnesium in your diet will help metabolise the calcium properly.
7. PMS and Cacao
For ladies out there who struggle with symptoms of PMS, organic cacao may be the answer to helping you get back into living life! What is cacao powder useful for when it comes to PMS? Well, because it has magnesium, it may help reduce insomnia, weight gain, leg swelling, bloating, breast tenderness and period pain.
When taken throughout the month along with a healthy diet, magnesium is said to help relax your uterus and reduce prostaglandins which cause inflammation and pain.
We hope we have answered your questions about what is cacao powder and how it can benefit you to live a healthy life. If you would like to use cacao powder in your cooking, try our organic cacao powder.
Happy Way is excited to announce our new range of single-ingredient packs, which all have their own superpowers to help you maintain a healthy, happy life! Made of all natural, all organic ingredients that have been used for thousands of years. Our maca, acai and cacao powder are all ready and waiting to be added into your daily cooking.If you would like some healthy recipes and diet advice see our recipes page or check out our youtube channel. If you like to pin your fav recipes, we also have an amazing Pinterest board you can browse.