The first time I heard about the benefits of chocolate, it was early on in my health coaching certification program. I was listening to a webinar with David Wolfe, author and raw food enthusiast. I still remember his exact words to this day, because clearly it was something that made my ears perk up and realize nutrition was not just about bland or boring foods. He asked, “And do you know one of the healthiest foods you can eat?” And then very emphatically, he answered his own question: “Chocolate.” He went on to explain that high quality raw cacao is a superfood full of benefits. From containing one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants in the world, to being the number one source of magnesium, to providing iron, zinc, copper, vitamin C and so much more, it should all be something we consume.
When we launched Gratisfied in January of 2019, our focus centered around our original Empower Bar, but I always knew what was next. Bringing a nutrition bar to market that contained organic cacao powder was always my intention. No fake flavors or chocolate chips; I wanted a bar with the benefits. Isn’t that what a nutrition bar is supposed to be? A side effect I never expected when I ate one was how happy it made me feel. Not just because I was eating chocolate in the morning (which I am still 100% supportive of by the way), but because cacao is a natural mood booster. I’ll get more into that in a bit.
While we no longer have our pre-packaged Empower Bar Cacao, we now have our Empower Bar Cacao baking mix and Cacao Granola Clusters. Both are made with real organic raw cacao powder, and while it tastes like you are eating an indulgent dessert, you know you are eating something beneficial for your body. It’s a win-win! Here are some more reasons why we should all be eating cacao every day.
Cacao is full of plant-based polyphenols. Polyphenols are a class of compounds found in food that are highly beneficial to our health. They include flavonoids, which act as antioxidants in the body. Not only does cacao contain more antioxidants than most foods, but according to David Wolfe, by weight, cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, goji berries, acai, blueberries, and pomegranate combined. This matters as antioxidants support cellular health, protect us from age-related disease, and fight against free radical damage to our DNA. Furthermore, studies have also shown cacao has medicinal properties and can even aid in pain management.
With the regular intake of cacao, research concludes that it could have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health due to evidence it improves blood pressure, decreases insulin resistance, and supports healthy platelet function. Many studies have shown reduced risk in cardiovascular events after the consumption of cacao.
Blood Sugar Balance and Weight Management
The flavonols found in cacao have been shown to support blood sugar balance as they work to slow carbohydrate digestion and absorption in the digestive system. Cacao intake also improves insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for optimal glucose regulation. According to David Wolfe in his book Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, “The cacao bean has always been and will always be Nature’s number one weight loss and high-energy food. Cacao beans are probably the best-kept secret in the entire history of food.”
Additionally, cacao contains soluble fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health and can help support weight management and weight loss efforts.
What is important to keep in mind however, is that Wolfe is referring to cacao in its most pure state. Much of the chocolate found on the market today has been highly processed and stripped of nutrition. This is why Gratisfied only uses high quality organic raw cacao powder in its products.
Mood and Brain Health
Consuming raw cacao supports mood and brain health in a number of ways, as it is full of neuroprotective properties. Cacao contains anandamide, which is an endorphin that is naturally produced in the body after exercise. According to Wolfe, it has only been found in one plant – cacao. Anandamide is called the “bliss chemical,” as it is released when we are feeling good.
Cacao also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that has been shown to support mood enhancement. Tryptophan is a precursor to the production of serotonin, which is our body’s “feel good” neurotransmitter. Elevated levels of serotonin decrease feelings of anxiety and stress. Eating cacao is a great plant-based way to obtain adequate levels of tryptophan. Cacao is also rich in serotonin itself. Studies have shown that eating cacao has antidepressant effects as well as aids in stress management.
Other Vitamins and Minerals Found in Cacao:
- Vitamin C