Superfood Series: Cacao

Word on the street is that dark chocolate may be good our hearts and general wellbeing. I am sure that many are keeping their fingers cross that the rumor contains some truth. Good news-it does! However, commercial chocolate is processed at high temperatures and do not contain the heart healthy benefits that cacao beans do. Raw, unprocessed cacao provides nutritional health to our hearts due to the magnesium and antioxidants found in it.
Raw cacao is a rich source of magnesium, an electrolyte that regulates your blood pressure and heartbeat by maintaining fluid balance in your blood vessels. Antioxidants keep your blood vessels strong by preventing free radicals from causing damage. Free radicals can be found in smoke and the environment and cause stress on your vessels in the absence of antioxidants. Additionally, antioxidants help with blood circulation and reduce the likelihood of blood clots.

So there you have it! The takeaway message is to eat chocolates as close to their natural state as possible. Portion-controlled raw cacao can be an excellent additional to any heart health diet! Try adding 1 ounce of raw cacao powder to your favorite milk or freeze and enjoy your own super food popsicle!

By Laura Oliver, MS, RD 

References

  1. Belz, G. G., and S. Mohr-Kahaly. “Cacoa and Dark Chocolate in Cardiovascular Prevention?” Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift (1946) 136.51-52 (2011): 2657-63. Print.
  2. Ried, K., et al. “Effect of Cocoa on Blood Pressure.” Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) 8 (2012): CD008893. Print.
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