Benefits of Chocolate and Cacao
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.
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.
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.
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.
Compounds in cacao and pure chocolate increases and balances serotonin and endorphin levels which elevate your mood. Endorphins are a natural pain and stress fighters and helps control appetite. Chocolates also contain alkaloids that can act as an aphrodisiac for both men and women.
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.