Cacao is one of the boons of Mother Nature. The benefits of cacao powder are as famous as its taste. Cacao is delicious and health-boosting at the same time. Here we will talk about a brief intro about cacao, the difference between cacao on cocoa, the benefits of cacao powder, few recipes and side effects of it. But before that, here are a few quick facts about cacao:
Did You Know!
|Cacao has almost 300 phytochemicals and approximately four times the antioxidant than many other foods. It also contains calcium, thiamin, magnesium, sulfur, protein, and riboflavin. Maybe that is why usually called it ‘food of the gods.’|
Cacao Powder – An Overview
Cacao is a part of American culture since the Mayan age and its benefits of cacao powder have been known to all. Cacao has its distinctive heritage and associates with many exciting stories.
This plant is native to America, and people have been using it for almost 4000 years. But now, Africa ranks in cacao cultivation and cultivates nearly 70% of the total production. Cacao fruits and seeds are both edible.
Are Cacao and Cocoa Same?
It is normal to be confused between cacao and cocoa because they are indeed confusing. There are a lot of people who are still unaware of the difference. To get the benefits of cacao powder, understanding these differences is necessary.
Cold pressed, and unroasted cacao(1) beans are raw cacao. This method removes the cacao butter or the fat from it and keeps the enzymes intact.
Cocoa has a similar look, but it is entirely different. If you roast raw cacao in high temperature, you get cocoa powder. However, this roasting process alters the molecular structures and decreases the active enzymes. The method also reduces its nutritional value.
[Read: Health Benefits Of Cocoa Powder]
Benefits of Cacao That Help You Improve Your Life
The health benefits of cacao powder are well known. There are a lot of studies going on to prove the cacao powder benefits. Here, we are trying to explain a few of them:
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants and its benefits do not need any introduction. These antioxidants fight free radicals and help our body to function correctly. Antioxidants like Polyphenols are there in cacao.
These type of antioxidants can reduce inflammation, improve the blood flow and lower the blood pressure.
Raw cacao can boast of having more antioxidants than blueberries. These antioxidants can flush out the toxins from our body and prevent future damages.
2. High in Organic Iron
Vegan often struggles to get proper plant-based food source which can supply the needed nutrients like iron(2). Cacao can solve this issue. This tropical plant or seed you can say, are high in organic iron and almost give competition to non-veg sources of this mineral.
[Read: Iron Rich Foods]
3. Rich in Calcium
Our body needs calcium for many reasons. And cacao is famed to have more calcium than the celebrated Cow’s milk. So if you have problems with milk or milk products, then cacao can be a better option to get some calcium.
4. Good for High Blood Pressure
According to a few studies, cacao can be useful for lowering high blood pressure. Cacao has different nutrients known as a flavanol which can effectively improve the level of nitric oxide in the blood. Enhanced level of nitric oxide is suitable for blood vessels health and reducing blood pressure.
5. Prevents the Risk of Heart Attack
Lowering blood pressure means a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. So, cacao powder can be useful for the cardiovascular system and organism. The flavanol dilutes in the arteries and relaxes them while reducing any tension. Cacao also reduces the level of bad cholesterol or LDL and helps in thinning the blood just similar aspirin.
6. Anti-Cancer property
Flavanols are known for being anti-cancer and have relatively fewer side effects. Cacao has a significant amount of flavanols. This nutrient combats inflammation stops abnormal cell growth and prevents the spreading of cancerous cells.
Studies on animals say cacao can be useful in reducing pancreatic, breast, prostate and liver cancer.
Cacao Powder Recipes
You can now get the benefits of cacao powder. Here are a few recipes to help you.
Cacao Peppermint Cookie:
What you need:
- Ground flax: One tbsp
- Water: Three tbsp
- Vegan Butter: ½ cup
- Coconut Sugar: ¼ cup
- Peppermint Extract: ½ tbsp
- Vanilla extract: One tbsp
- Whole wheat flour: One cup
- Cocoa powder: 1/3 cup
- Baking soda: 1/2 tbsp
- Salt: 1/4 tbsp
How you make it:
- Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a round pie pan.
- Whip together water and flax in a small bowl and set aside.
- Take a large bowl and mix the sugar and butter with an electric beater. After making it a bit fluffy, add peppermint extract, vanilla extract, and the flax batter.
- Adding baking soda, flour, cocoa powder, and salt to this. Make a dough.,
- Bake the mixture for 20 minutes on the skillet.
Cacao Milk Shake
What you need:
- Milk: Two cups
- Cacao Powder: One tbsp
- Vanilla essence: Four drops
- Honey: As per the taste
How to make it:
Add all the ingredients in the blender and blend. Your delicious cacao milk shake is ready. If you wish, you can add banana.
Cacao Powder Side Effects and Precautions
Yes, cacao is tasty, and there are numerous benefits of cacao powder we already have discussed. But there are few side effects too. They include.
- Anxiety: The large amounts of caffeine can trigger anxiety.
- Insomnia: The boosted up mood and energy with a high level of caffeine can be a devil for your sleep. So, avoid consuming cacao before going to bed.
- Bleeding disorders: Cacao can slow down blood clotting and make your blood a bit thinner. And as a consequence, it can cause a bleeding disorder.
- Diabetes: Cacao can increase blood sugar levels and might affect blood sugar management in people with diabetes.
- Diarrhea: Cacao comprises caffeine, and a large intake of caffeine can cause diarrhea
- Glaucoma: Caffeine is also notorious for increasing pressure on the eye which is fatal for impending glaucoma.
Remember, if you are taking it moderately, then you do not need to worry.
Cacao is delicious and is readily available. Make cacao cookie or cacao cake, it will always remain tasty and will work as a treat. Apart from all the benefits of cacao powder, it has its very own legacy and identity. Some call it a superfood, some call it a natural aphrodisiac; cacao is mythical and majestic at the same time. Its history is as rich as its nutritional values.
Add some cacao powder in your daily boring foods and boost your health in a yummy way.