by Grainne Dooley DipNT mNTOI

So the new buzz on the block is Raw Cacao. Cocoa (think hot cocoa chocolate drink stuff) is like so last season and as for chocolate, just don’t even go there!

But whats the difference and what is it anyway?

Check out the picture. The beans? Nope, not coffee beans but they do look a little like them, only a bit bigger. When you peel open or press open the shell, inside is the cacao nib, usually broken up into little pieces, pictured top right.

This is the good stuff. The gold of chocolate. When you read the ingredients of a good quality chocolate bar, you’ll see it says 60% or 70% or 85% etc cacao solids. The higher the better nutritionally speaking.

Raw cacao is made when the UNROASTED beans are cold-pressed and therefore, due to the absence of heat, means the enzymes are still existent. The fat, (cocoa butter) is removed.

Cocoa powder, on the other hand (pictured top left), is raw cacao powder that has been roasted at high temperatures and therefore most of the living enzymes are dead and buried.

So nutritionally, whats the best chocolate to eat? Go for raw cacao nibs or cacao powder.

Raw cacao nibs/powder are rich in antioxidants (even higher than green tea and red wine) which help fight against nasty free radicals (those feckers that make us look older than our year’s ladies). They are also pretty good on the calcium and iron front and also high in magnesium (good for the muscles!). Studies show that dark chocolate helps to reduce high blood pressure and improves circulation.

Grab a bag of cacao nibs and sprinkle them into your yoghurt or just munch on them with a mix of nuts and coconut flakes or stir into a little almond butter for an extra crunch!
They taste pretty bitter and contain caffeine so not so good for the kiddies,…unless you plan on staying up all night!

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