BEST IDEA THIS MONTH:

CA­CAO, THE PUREST FORM OF CHOCO­LATE, IS PACKED WITH AN­TIOX­I­DANTS AND OF­FERS SEV­ERAL HEALTH BENEFITS.

LOSE IT! - - Contents - BY NICKY PERKS

Ca­cao

Raw, or­ganic ca­cao is a su­per food that’s an ex­cep­tional source of an­tiox­i­dants. An­tiox­i­dants pro­tect your DNA against dam­age from pol­lu­tion and age­ing and also help to de­crease in­flam­ma­tion, which is linked to many diseases, such as di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and cancer. Ca­cao is also rich in im­por­tant vi­ta­mins and min­er­als such as mag­ne­sium, iron, cal­cium, se­le­nium, zinc, cop­per and potas­sium.

Ca­cao orig­i­nates from the ca­cao tree, Theo­broma ca­cao – ‘theo­broma’ roughly trans­lates as ‘food of the gods’. The tree pro­duces ca­cao pods that are cracked open to re­lease ca­cao beans. From there, ca­cao beans are sweated, fer­mented, and dried be­fore be­ing pro­cessed a few dif­fer­ent ways. The outer lin­ing of the bean is fatty and is turned into ca­cao but­ter; the rest of the bean can be chopped or ground to form nibs and pow­der.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween cocoa and ca­cao lies in the level of pro­cess­ing, which also de­ter­mines cost, nu­tri­ent con­tent and health benefits. Ca­cao (ka-cow) is made by cold press­ing un­roasted cocoa beans and is the purest form of choco­late you can eat. Cocoa (ko-ko) is de­rived from the same plant but is roasted at a high tem­per­a­ture dur­ing pro­cess­ing, which re­duces the an­tiox­i­dant lev­els. The bit­ter tast­ing cocoa pow­der is then com­bined with sugar and fats to make the store­bought choco­lates that we all know and love.

Both ca­cao and cocoa are very good for you and can be used in­ter­change­ably in bak­ing recipes, smooth­ies, and so forth but if you want an ex­tra nu­tri­tional boost then raw ca­cao is the way to go. Un­for­tu­nately, as with many other types of health food, raw ca­cao is more ex­pen­sive than cocoa but its ex­tra­or­di­nary prop­er­ties might be worth the ex­tra cost!

Ca­cao is rich in im­por­tant vi­ta­mins and min­er­als such as mag­ne­sium, iron, cal­cium, se­le­nium, zinc, cop­per and potas­sium.

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