Before you reach for another Red Tulip foil-wrapped bunny this Sunday, consider this: Raw chocolate (when the cocoa nib or bean has not heated above 49 degrees) is actually GOOD for you. Yep - you heard us right. Here are six reasons why there should be no more Easter guilt this year…
1. It keeps you looking young
Aging is caused by the oxidization of cells and antioxidants are one of our biggest allies in the process. Raw cacao has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world. “Raw cacao is full of flavonoids, acting as a natural antioxidant and protecting the body from ageing caused by free radicals,” explains Pana Chocolate founder Pana Barbounis, who set out to bring a range of handmade raw chocolate to the market that was easy to purchase and maintained its stability in shops.
2. It helps you get in the mood
Just like oysters, raw chocolate is an aphrodisiac. Eating it causes the brain to produce anandamide, which supposedly acts like a natural marijuana in our brain and induces a state of euphoria. It also contains phenylethylamine (PEA) found also in blue-green algae, which mimics the natural mood enhancer in the human brain when we experience feelings of love.
3. It’s a great snack post work out
“It’s great for you after exercising,” says Pana. “Raw cacao also contains magnesium, a great electrolyte for calming muscles." There’s also research that suggests it can help curb your appetite, so introducing some chocolate could actually help you reach your diet and fitness goals. “Raw cacao helps your body tune into its natural appetite so you won’t get a nasty sugar crash after consuming.” adds Pana.
4. It tastes so. Damn. Good.
Pana says raw chocolate tastes better because the flavours and textures are more intense so “a little goes a long way – you can usually satisfy your craving quite quickly”. Some nutritionists even recommend drinking a cup of hot cacao before a meal to prevent over-indulging and assist in weight loss.
5. It’s full of other good stuff.
In addition to antioxdiants and magnesium, cacao beans also contain minerals like zinc for skin, potassium to help boost your metabolism, and calcium to maintain strong bones.
6. It’s cruelty – and lactose - free
The perfect gift for a vegan friend or lactose intolerant family member, raw cacao chocolate products are often made without milk. In fact, many of the health benefits are best when not combined with dairy. Simply melt raw cacao and cacao butter together with cacao nibs, goji berries, raisins, crushed nuts, chilli powder or anything that crosses your mind and you have a nutritious crave-curbing snack for on-the-go.
There are so many delicious recipes readily available from decadent raw chocolate mousse made from avocado to raw chocolate brownies with walnuts. Here’s our pick of some delicious recipes you can try this Easter:
Story by Sigourney and Claudia De Berardinis.