Tag Archives: dark chocolates

Raw chocolate with 100% cacao – No thanks

Just a few weeks ago, I was telling you all the benefits of dark chocolate and trying to convert all of you to eating dark chocolate from now on. I must add a warning with that post because I had a taste of a 100% Cacao raw chocolate and it was not what I expected.

As you know I LOVE dark chocolate so one of my friends bought this chocolate for me from a health food store. You can see the packing looks great like any normal chocolate but this one is made from predominately Cacao not Cocoa.


Did you know that Cacao is actually a super food? Not cocoa but Cacao; this tasty little bean is full of the good stuff. Cacao is derived from Theobroma Cacao beans, which literally means “Food of the Gods”. Cacao contains over 300 compounds including protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness. Cacao is also high in sulphur, which helps form strong nails and hair.

The difference between the two is something I never considered before. Cacao refers to the raw form of chocolate, including the tree and bean. Raw cacao powder is not roasted, relatively unprocessed, and contains no sugar or cocoa butter and so retains more of its natural nutrients. Cocoa is the Anglicized version of the word “cacao.” Cocoa powder has been roasted, ground, and sometimes mixed with a sweetener and cocoa butter. Most chocolate today is loaded with sugars, dairy products, sodium, stabilizers, emulsifiers, preservatives, and more.

Knowing all this fact, I thought I would love this chocolate. I had a piece and it is too bitter and too bland to my liking. It would be great if you were after a 100% no artificial ingredient chocolate bar but I have to tell you that it tastes nothing like the chocolate we know. For me it was one of the worst chocolates I have ever tasted.

As you can see in the packing, it says No sugar and 5.0 g fat per serve which means I know it will be great for my body but my mouth wouldn’t allowed me to have another piece.

Just to check how everyone would react, I gave the chocolates to my colleagues, AS and his cousin. All of them agreed with me that they would never eat this chocolate again. Anyway, if you can eat it I am sure it is great for you as raw Cacao bars are filled with nutrients and natural ingredients your body will benefit from.

We were joking that this is the chocolate we should introduce to our kids for the first time. Either they will love it and have all the health benefits or they will never eat chocolates again. 🙂

Just some quick steps on how cocoa bean becomes a chocolate bar

  • It takes six months for cocoa beans to ripen. Harvests take place twice a year
  • The beans, which are covered in a white pulp, are removed from the pods
  • Beans are put in large heaps and covered up to ferment. This takes about a week. and is when the cocoa flavour starts to develop
  • Beans are then dried for a week then taken to the chocolate factory
  • They are then roasted, and separated from their shells in hulling machines
  • The insides of the bean, called nibs, are turned into a liquid or chocolate liquor
  • The chocolate liquor is blended with cocoa butter, and other ingredients and stirred for several hours
  • The resulting thick mixture comes out and is poured into bar-shaped containers
  • The bars are now ready to be packaged and eaten, about four days after the cocoa beans reached the factory

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Dark chocolate health benefits

When I was growing up in Kathmandu, Nepal I used to love chocolate like every other child, especially Milky Bar, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Kit Kat. The bigger chocolate blocks were very expensive so it was a a big deal when anyone bought me those big sized chocolates. So every time I used to get one, I would eat only a little and save some for the next day. Normally, I would take a week to finish a block even after sharing some with my brother.

So when I landed in Sydney and discovered that chocolates were so cheap here, I consumed so much in the first few months that I got over chocolate after that. So for the last 10 years I stopped buying and eating chocolates apart from the few times when someone has given me some.

But when AS moved to Sydney with me, he got me into dark chocolates. I used to hate it initially because it was so bitter. So I resist for almost a year but after a while, I started enjoying it. Also AS’s constant reminder that dark chocolate is good for us helped me jump the fence.

Now I loved dark chocolate and have a piece now and then.

As with all the food, over consummation is definitely not good but for all the sweet toothed people out there, here are 7 reasons you should eat dark chocolate.

Studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary crap) can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease.

1. Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious

If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains :

    11 grams of fiber.

    67% of the RDA for Iron.

    58% of the RDA for Magnesium.

    89% of the RDA for Copper.

    98% of the RDA for Manganese.

    It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.

Bottom Line: Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals.

2. Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants

Have you ever heard of a measure called ORAC? ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods. Basically, researchers pit a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.

The biological relevance of this metric is questioned, because it’s done in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body. However, I think it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest scoring foods that have been tested. Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.

One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries .

Bottom Line: Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, way more than most other foods.

3. Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas. One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the articles to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.

There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild . However, there is also one study in people with elevated blood pressure that showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt (8).

Bottom Line: The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.

4. Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation

Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.  In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol . Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals. This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues… such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.

It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage. Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Bottom Line: Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.

5. Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL. In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term. It turns out that we have several long-term observational studies that show a fairly drastic improvement.

In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period . Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect . Yet another study showed that chocolate 5+ times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57% .

Of course, these 3 studies are so-called observational studies that can not prove that it was the chocolate that caused the reduction in risk.

However, given that we have a biological mechanism (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL) then I find it plausible that regular consumption of dark chocolate can in fact reduce the risk of heart disease.

 Bottom Line: Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate.

6. Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin Against The Sun

The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration .The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin, 24 hours after exposure.

In one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks .

If you’re planning on a beach vacation, consider loading up on dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months.

Bottom Line: Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.

7. Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function

The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain.

One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain . Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease .

Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term .

There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease. But of course, this doesn’t mean people should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on. Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savor them.

Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is crap. You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

So go now and indulge in some dark chocolate  🙂

Do you like dark chocolates?

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Source : http://authoritynutrition.com