Chocolate, the food of the Gods. No matter your religious affiliation or non-affiliation, most would agree. With so much literature coming out highlighting all of the health benefits about chocolate, it’s hard to question whether or not that candy bar in the checkout line is really bad for you.
In nature, chocolate is found naturally in only a few areas and is extremely hard to
harvest and turn into a palatable form. Knowing this, it is necessary to take into account the highly processed and widely sold chocolate bars that people eat every day. In nature, we would never be consuming the amount of chocolate that is sold and consumed today.
The amount of sugar and other additives that go into a packaged chocolate bar end up
completely outweighing any benefit that you would receive from the cacao that makes the chocolate itself. This means you need to be wary when you read articles that give you free reign to treat yourself to as much chocolate as you want.
The cacao that is used in these processed bars is cooked, which means the positive aspects of the food are destroyed before the chocolate even reaches your mouth.
When cacao is consumed in moderation and it’s raw form it has many health benefits. Cacao is extremely high in antioxidants and phytochemicals such as the following:
- Flavonoids: catechins and epicatechins are compounds found in cacao that are anticancer, antiviral and great for cardiovascular health.
- Theobromine: a mild stimulant and antioxidant similar to caffeine. This is what gives you that buzz from eating raw cacao.
- PEA: Phenylalanine is what our bodies produce when we fall in love, which makes sense when it comes to our deep love of chocolate. This compound is extremely sensitive to heat so make sure to enjoy your cacao treat raw in order to get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
- Magnesium: So many North Americans are deficient in this relaxant mineral and Cacao could very well be the highest natural source of it.
Don’t be fooled, however, you are not going to get all of these benefits from grabbing a candy bar at the checkout in line at the grocery store. Most of the candy sold in these aisles are highly processed, packed with additional sugars and other additives to keep them shelf stable and highly flavorful over time.
Watch out for the following culprits in the ingredients list. If these are present, the benefits of any cacao inside that treat is far outweighed by the negative health cost of these:
- Artificial Flavors
- Corn Syrup
- Hydrogenated Oils
- Soybean Oil
- Palm Oil