Chocolate vs Cacao - The Impact On Your Health Is Dramatic

Most of our Chocolate flavoured Funch products achieve their taste using Raw Organic Cacao Powder. Whilst Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which means it is raw and much less processed than cocoa powder or chocolate bars, these two ingredients should NEVER be confused as they are worlds apart when it comes to their impact on your health.

Most chocolate (there are a few exceptions around) is derived from cacao beans, but to achieve that sweet, almost irresistible flavour and texture through a high level of processing which includes the addition of artificial ingredients and lots of added sugar and sweeteners. So essentially, nearly all chocolate is going to be bad for your health, and almost impossible to resist!

Cacao, on the other hand, is the original product from which chocolate was created. In this natural form, it is filled with an abundance of goodness. For us, using raw organic cacao powder if the healthiest way we can offer you a chocolate flavour whilst still ensure that it is a healthy, wholesome product. 

Cacao Powder comes from the Cacao Bean and contains no sugar. There is also a vast range of other nutrients found in cacao powder including:  

Magnesium: Cacao may be the highest source of Magnesium the relaxer mineral.  Magnesium fights acid buildup, neutralizes toxins, calms sensitivity to pain, quiets nerves, builds strong bones and teeth and is essential for many other functions. 

Iron: Iron is a critical mineral in nutrition. Iron is part of the oxygen-carrying protein called haemoglobin that keeps our blood healthy.

Chromium: Chromium is an important trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar. Chromium plays a significant role in detoxifying the liver from alcohols which build up during the fermentation process of sugars and starches when we overeat or make bad food choices. It has a major influence on blood cleanse.

Caffeine and theobromine. There is a persistent urban legend that Chocolate contains caffeine. It would seem that this rumour is based primarily on a confusion between two similar alkaloids: caffeine and Theobromine. Theobromine is the active ingredient in Chocolate and it occurs only in Cacao. The two stimulants are related and have similar structures, but are very different chemicals with different properties, effects and origins. There are, of course, some Chocolate products that have added caffeine, but it does not occur naturally in Chocolate.

Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) - these are different from digestive enzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favourable results when consumed by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain. 

Phenethylamine (PEA):  is found in abundance in cacao beans. Because PEA is heat sensitive, much of the PEA in conventional cooked and processed chocolate is missing. PEA is the adrenal-related chemical that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love. This is likely one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep connection. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.

In trials, doctors at Harvard found that Antioxidant compounds called Flavonols in chocolate help the body to produce nitric oxide, a compound essential for proper heart function. Again, with Raw Cacao Powder, this effect could easily be multiplied.  Remember that raw cacao powder contains about seven times as many antioxidants as cooked cacao powder!

Raw Cacao Powder has at least 33% more Arginine, the aphrodisiac-like amino acid believed by body builders to build muscle and aid in recovery.

Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical) - A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as "The Bliss Chemical" because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies' ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that natural anandamide and/or cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer when we eat cacao.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids: Cacao beans contain essential omega 6 fatty acids when it is RAW.

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is transformed into important stress-protective neurotransmitters including serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan is heat sensitive and therefore it is “cooked out” in many high protein foods and in conventionally processed chocolate. At least 33% more when you use Raw Cacao.

Serotonin: Serotonin is the primary neurotransmitter in the human body. Serotonin is similar in its chemistry to tryptophan and melatonin. Serotonin helps us build up our “stress defence shield.”

Theobromine: Cacao beans usually contain about 1% theobromine. Theobromine is an effective anti-bacterial substance and kills streptococci mutants (the primary organism that causes cavities). Theobromine and caffeine are similar in that they are related alkaloids. Theobromine is weaker in both its inhibition of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase and its antagonism of adenosine receptors. Therefore, theobromine has a lesser impact on the human central nervous system than caffeine. Theobromine stimulates the heart to a greater degree. While theobromine is not as addictive, it has been cited as possibly causing addiction to chocolate. Theobromine has also been identified as one of the compounds contributing to chocolate's reputed role as an aphrodisiac.

Antioxidants: Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. These antioxidants include polyphenols, catechins, and epicatechins. By weight, Cacao beans have more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries COMBINED. Antioxidants keep you looking young and help fight disease. ORAC antioxidant laboratory analysis confirms that there are over 25,200 antioxidants in a single spoonful of our raw cacao powder!  Dark chocolate has been touted as a source of antioxidants, but this raw chocolate is way beyond that. Living proof that raw is better!  

Manganese: Manganese helps assist iron in the oxygenation of the blood and formation of haemoglobin. Interestingly, manganese is also concentrated in tears.

Zinc: Zinc plays a critical role in the immune system, liver, pancreas, and skin. Additionally, zinc is involved in thousands of enzymatic reactions throughout the human body.

Some of our favourite products that use raw organic cacao powder include:

Chocolate brownie protein ballsThe source of our information about the nutritional components of Cacao beans and powder has come from Real Raw Food's Cacao Info.

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