Unwrap the Truth: How Raw Cacao’s Bittersweet Antioxidants Can Boost Your Heart Health

Chocolate is notorious for getting a bad rap when it comes to health. There are many misconceptions surrounding chocolate such as causing acne, being addictive, and making you fat. While some of these statements are true to a degree, what is often overlooked is the fact that consuming the right kind of chocolate can yield numerous health benefits.

Cardiovascular benefits have always been the focus of studies surrounding chocolate. From stroke prevention to cholesterol improvement and mood enhancement, these studies share one commonality: the health benefits of chocolate come from its cacao content. Cacao, or cocoa, generally refers to the natural raw bean used to derive the chocolate powder. It is the higher cacao percentage in chocolate that determines its healing benefits.

Milk chocolate, despite common misconceptions, is less healthy due to the milk, which can impair the beneficial actions of flavonoids (healthy phytonutrients) present in cacao. That is why it is recommended to stick with dark chocolate since it has more than 50% cacao content, ensuring that its health benefits are preserved.

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the undeniable link between cacao consumption and health improvement. One notable study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that both solid dark chocolate and liquid cocoa were effective in improving endothelial function and lowering blood pressure in overweight adults. Another decade-long study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who observed over 37,000 men, found that those who consumed around 2.2 ounces of chocolate per week had a 17% lower risk of stroke.

So, how exactly do these studies point to the health benefits of chocolate? The answer lies in the flavonoids contained within raw cacao:

  1. Raw cacao is a treasure trove of flavonoids. Flavonoids, specifically epicatechin, are found in high concentration in raw cacao. These antioxidants play a pivotal role in cacao’s ability to reduce blood pressure, thin blood, prevent blood clotting, improve arterial function, increase good cholesterol, and improve mood. All these attributes help reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke. However, it’s important to note that cooking and alkalizing processes used in manufacturing chocolate can significantly reduce the flavonoid content and their antioxidant capabilities.

  2. Choosing the best chocolate. The best type of chocolate for deriving health benefits is raw cacao or dark chocolate. Keep in mind that moderation is key, and it is crucial to avoid chocolate products loaded with sugar and milk that undermine the benefits of cacao. One idea is to buy raw cacao in bulk, combine it with warmed almond milk and stevia, and create your own hot cocoa. Additionally, there are numerous high-quality dark chocolate bars available online, many of which are certified USDA organic and contain healthy additives like ginger and chaga.

In conclusion, chocolate, in its raw cacao or dark form, can have remarkable health benefits when consumed in moderation and without unhealthy additives. Incorporating this tasty yet often misunderstood treat into your diet might just make all the difference in your overall cardiovascular health.