In fact, some raw foodists are downright protective (and even aggressive) over their raw cacao and for good reason – it can be highly addictive (don’t fret – we’ll talk about the good AND bad here with a happy ending).
I often wonder: can something this highly promoted as a wonder cure or wonder drug really be that healthy?
Especially since studies increasingly show that antioxidants work in synergy with other and one (i.e. overdosing on one type, like say, Vitamin E, won’t have great benefits without a range of other antioxidants).
Yes, there are a range of studies that prove that the cacao bean has a high level of antioxidants and minerals (like magnesium) that are healthy for humans.
What is left out of the picture is that, with these antioxidants, comes a high level of fat, that is not good for us and also a high level of sugar (cacao is so bitter it almost has to be consumed with sugar to sweeten it – even dark chocolate – check the ingredients for sugar) that also not good for us.
Darn. Hope I didn’t dash your dreams, you chocolate lovers.
If you want to just talk about the powder – minus the fat, minus the sugar – cacao powder has these healthy antioxidants but wait! It also has chemicals (albeit naturally occurring) that are not so good for us like theobromide and it is addictive and highly stimulating for some people.
While I wouldn’t go this far, some people who claim that raw cacao is actually more of a toxin, then a help, since they argue, no other animal on earth will ever eat cacao unless tricked with milk and sugar (kinda true, I have to agree).
But most of you likely know that my middle name is – balance!
In small quantities, chocolate won’t hurt you, so long as you take care to not get addicted and to not feel like you “need” it everyday.
Chocolate wasn’t meant to be eaten by the gallon. If you’re eating a raw chocolate bar at every corner, you might want to slow down.
In fact, I do recommend one to two pieces of dark chocolate for my wonderful cleansers, short term, just because – while it might not be entirely health promoting – it serves a purpose: to get us to eat a healthy diet, that primarily has healthy, whole grain foods, without feeling deprived. Read that last line again, “without feeling deprived”. So important for long term change.
It’s also worth a note that some people do have extreme sensitivity to cacao and find it way too stimulating (myself included). As well, if you’re healing any gut issues, caffeine is simply too harsh during your healing process and you’ll make much better progress without it (even if temporarily). I have another post on caffeine here.
For this I recommend: carob if you want a chocolate-y taste in your smoothies. In fact, carob is the centre of a recent study which proves it can actually prevent cells in our colon walls from being damaged (bring on the carob!).
My closing point is that, whenever something is promoted as a “wonder food/drug”, I question whether politics and/or money have anything to do with it.
Like everything, make sure you take it with a grain of salt (no pun intended because dark chocolate with sea salt is amazingly good).
So there you go. Eat a little chocolate, with a lot of balance!
Sarah Ives is a raw food and plant-based educator and coach extraordinaire who helps you sort through all of the contradictory information on the internet, so you can live an amazing life, fuelled with nutrition that actually feeds you and your fam! Learn more about her here.
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