A food of the gods: this is the translation of Theobroma Cacao, the Latin name of the cacao tree. The brown stuff that melts in the mouth has found its way from the tropics where it originated and conquered the palates and hearts of Western society. It is rare to find someone who does not like chocolate. The good news about chocolate is that it can be indeed a healthy addition to a balanced diet – as long as you get a good quality dark chocolate.
What is so good about chocolate after all? First, it is very high in antioxidants. Another positive note about chocolate is that it is a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in the gut, that regulate many body functions - from immunity to hormonal balance.
In addition, chocolate is also high in several minerals, such as iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.
So, if you think eating dark chocolate is not a good idea because of caffeine, you don’t need to worry – unless you overeat it. To give an idea, one espresso served in a 2 ounces cup has around 100mg of caffeine while a 100g dark chocolate bar has between 17.5 and 70mg. So, while having one or two chocolate squares a day is fine, eating a whole bar at once is packed with close to 600 calories, and not recommended.
Note that the higher the cocoa content, the better.
Cacao versus cocoa
There is some confusion between cacao and cocoa. After all, the bean beared by the Theobroma tree is cacao, but when you buy a chocolate bar, you read cocoa in the ingredient list. This is not a typo. These are just different stages in the process of turning the bean into chocolate. To get cacao powder, the beans are heated at low temperature and basically maintain all of the original components and nutrition profile. Cacao nibs are the beans broken down into small, edible chunks. Both are considered to be raw foods. Cocoa powder has been heated at a higher temperature and some of its fat is removed.
Whether the cocoa powder is dutch-processed or regular, they’re healthy as long as they don’t contain additional ingredients.
Now let’s celebrate World Chocolate Day enjoying all its goodness with a quick, refreshing smoothie.
Chocolate power smoothie
Time: 10 minutes Yield: 1 serving
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- ½ cup frozen wild blueberries
- ½ avocado
- 2 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
- 3 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1tbsp raw honey
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Blend all ingredients until you get a homogeneous consistency.
- Add more milk or water if desired.
- You can adjust ingredients such as honey and blueberries to suit your taste.