What Is Raw Chocolate and Why Eat It? | Author: Sarita Haines

Dark chocolate is made from the nutrition-rich cacao plant.  Among its many health benefits such as antioxidants, cacao contains both magnesium and sulfur, both of which are essential to the body's proper functioning.  It also naturally contains enzymes that preserve anandamide. This chemical promotes happiness, good mood and loving feelings often attributed to chocolate.

Unfortunately, once the chocolate from the cacao plant goes through the standard roasting process, the majority of its nutrients dissipate.  In some cases, roasting increases the negative efffects of some substances such as caffeine.  While raw chocolate naturally promotes alertness, the caffeine present in roasted chocolate causes insomnia, irritability and anxiety.  

In order to get the maximum benefits from chocolate consumption, we recommend eating raw,organic chocolate. Available in a variety of forms, raw chocolate is minimally processed and free of fillers.  It is also available unsweetened or with the addition of unrefined sweeteners. Here are two examples of how you can enjoy raw chocolate in your diet.

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is the least processed form of cocoa, making it the highest in flavanols, which research suggests may help protect the body from illnesses.  For a deep, rich chocolate flavor, add cocoa powder to drinks, shakes or ice cream.  Keep in mind that combining cocoa powder with dairy products may minimize its effectiveness, so use soy or rice milks in your recipes if possible.

Cacao Nibs

Another convenient, enjoyable way to eat raw chocolate is cacao nibs.  These resemble chocolate chips and the two can sometimes be used interchangeably.  For example, you may add cacao nibs to a granola or trail mix for a great snack. You'll find cacao nibs have a deeper, more natural chocolate-y flavor than the chips you're accustomed to.

While the majority of the world's chocolate is roasted, processed and contains unwanted sweeteners and fillers, you'll have plenty of options to incorporate raw, organic chocolate into your diet.  Both cocoa powder and cacao nibs are available from online nutrition shops as well as many grocers and health food stores.  Even some unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate bars, while containing roasted chocolate, still maintain some nutritional value.  However, neither milk chocolate nor white chocolate offer any types of health benefits.

About the Author:

Learn more about raw, organic chocolate. For more information on the health benefits of chocolate, visit Chocolate Is Healthy.

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