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6 Top Health Benefits of Chocolate and Cacao

Chocolate Almond Spread

Real, dark chocolate and cacao contain numerous natural compounds offering a myriad of health benefits. No wonder that chocolate has long been known as “Food of the Gods” due to its many health-enhancing qualities.

What’s the difference between cocoa and cacao? Cacao is the bean from the plant in its raw, unprocessed state. It becomes cocoa once roasted and processed. While dark chocolate still retains a lot of nutritional benefits, only cacao nibs can rightly claim superfood status. Here are the top reasons to enjoy this well-loved food.

Vitamins & minerals
Cacao and dark chocolate supply potassium, calcium, vitamin C, iron and copper. Chocolate and cacao are also rich in iron and magnesium.

Antioxidants
Cacao and dark chocolate contain some of the same antioxidant compounds found in grains, fruits, veggies and nuts. Their antioxidant levels rival those of blueberries and acai berries. Cacao and dark chocolate surpass the antioxidant qualities of  red wine and green tea. Antioxidants are generally valued for their anti-aging benefits.

Heart health
The magnesium, vitamin E and copper in cacao and dark chocolate may be helpful in preventing heart disease. Magnesium increases and promotes heart function and keeps blood flowing better; copper allows blood cells to receive oxygen.

Cocoa and cacao

Fighting illness
Unsweetened cacao is especially good for those with diabetes or sensitivities to sugars. It does not increase blood sugar levels or lead to a sugar crash. It also improves cell function.

Feeling good
Compounds in pure chocolate and cacao have long been credited with increasing and balance serotonin levels, contributing to feelings of contentment and happiness. And though it’s hard to prove such things, chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac for both men and women. Could that explain its link to Valentine’s Day?

Brain function
A cousin to caffeine, cacao can give the brain a gentle boost without the shakiness and headaches. About 2 ounces of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, while a cup of regular coffee contains 200 mg.

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    imam fahrudin
    April 12, 2014 at 3:24 am

    I make my own dark chocolate at home out of raw cocoa powder, coconut oil and a little bit of carob to sweeten it, put it in small silicone molds and enjoy one daily max. I think that is the best quality dark chocolate I can afford myself.

    • Reply
      Nava
      April 12, 2014 at 6:54 am

      Nice idea, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Mi
    June 30, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Information is very useful & helpful for many people. Thanks 4 share.

  • Reply
    Steph
    December 21, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Cacao is certainly healthy, and it’s certainly very high in many things, however, it contains no Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) what-so-ever. ZERO.

    Next, you claim that Cacao is heart healthy due to its copper content because “copper carries Oxygen”. Actually, IRON is the chemical element found in the heme-group of hemoglobin that carries Oxygen, not copper.

    It’s more likely that the heart-healthy properties of Cacao come from its Epicatechin content, which has been shown to increase EPO levels. EPO is a potent hematopoietic that promotes blood cell production. The same compound has also been shown to cause Nitric oxide-dependent relaxation in arterial tissues which improves blood flow. Magnesium, vitamin E, and especially copper have negligible effects on cardiovascular health unless you are severely deficient in these things.

    Also, Cacao is not a “cousin to caffeine”. Caffeine is a chemical compound, Cacao is a plant species. Cacao contains the same caffeine found in coffee. Approximately 230 mg per 100 grams to be precise.

    It is people like you who give nutritionists, in general, a bad name.

    Stop posting blatantly false bullshit and please go educate yourself.

  • Reply
    Caralyn Dale McAuley
    January 5, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Who is the coward who disagrees disagreeably and is too “chicken”

    to leave a name?!

  • Reply
    Steph
    January 8, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Hey Caralyn! I believe you may be referring to me.

    If this is the case, I did leave my name, its Steph, short for Stephanie, in case you were unaware of that.

    If having a real education in human biology makes me “disagreeable” in your eyes, it’s most likely because you suffer from an abhorrent confirmation bias. You just like to be told things you already believe so your predetermined notions can be confirmed.

    Feel free to provide me scientific data showing that cocoa contains Vitamin C. You will be unable to do this because no such information exists.

    Feel free to provide me scientific data showing that Hemoglobin uses Copper to carry Oxygen and not Iron. You will be unable to do this because anyone who has passed first-grade biology class knows this is false.

    Feel free to explain to me why you believe Cocoa, a plant species, is a “cousin” to Caffeine, a chemical compound found in many different plant species including Cocoa. Cocoa contains caffeine. The caffeine it contains is identical to the caffeine found in Coffee in every way, shape, and form. There is no difference. That’s not how chemistry works.

    Otherwise, go elsewhere with your empty straw man arguments attacking my apparent “cowardice” for not leaving my name.

    Once again, people like you give nutritional scientists a bad name and the reason this area of study is not taken as seriously as it should be in the medical community. It is absolutely FILLED with people spreading unsubstantiated, garbage claims. Almost as DISGRACEFUL as snake-oil salesmen who claim that their tinctures and salves cure cancer.

    Nothing but selfish sociopaths trying to make a buck off of other peoples ill-health.

    This poorly written article was pumped out in about 20 minutes and is nothing more than a piece of content made specifically to generate traffic and make ad revenue. The author, who looks as if she is about 14, couldn’t even have been bothered to do any real research clearly. This is why no citations were provided. They don’t exist. The information provided in this “Article” is mostly false.

    Sad that there are doctors out there who have a tough time finding work while kids are making money writing disgracefully inaccurate articles on natural health.

  • Reply
    A
    May 30, 2018 at 12:01 am

    Apparently Stephanie needs some cacao in her life haha. This is an article, not a scientific journal and actually all the points you’ve argued against are right. Copper assists Iron in oxygenating blood by helping your body use iron in hemoglobin, so that’s pretty neat. Secondly, the reference to cacao being a “cousin” of coffee is in every bit true. Not only does it contain a bit of caffeine but it also contains a larger proportion of a compound called theobromine, a chemical analog to caffeine. Thirdly, the Vitamin C debate with cacao looks like it’s dependent upon how it’s processed and sold, I.e. Whether heat was used etc. but alas, there are some dependent variables there. Anyways– nice try, Stephanie. Maybe you should use your energy re-reading your big bio book and continually researching new information– after all, true scientists don’t waste time condemning others like internet trolls– they just keep searching for truth. Looks like you need some love and light sent your way.

    Thank you, Rachel, for this post and for braving the foxholes of the nutrition field. You’re work is helping me to replace stimulants like caffeine with superfoods like cacao. Cheers xx

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