Raw Chocolate vs  processed

All chocolate starts out life in the same way, as a cacao pod growing on a small tree called  "Theobroma", which translated means "gods drink".  Each cacao pod contans between 40 and 60 seeds which are carefully removed when harvested and then put through a natural fermentation process.  During the fermentation period, natural yeasts on the seeds convert the natural sugars into an acid whch gives it a slightly bitter taste.  Anyone who has ever chewed on a raw cacao nib, or eaten 100% ccao will know this flavour, it is an aquired taste!  AThe beancs are then spread out on mats to dry in the sun, it is at this stage that the chocolate flavour starts to develop.  From there on there are two ways to arrive at chocolate, raw or processed.


So, lets deal with the bad stuff first.  Processed Chocolate, what happens to it, and what are the consequences?  Well, when the processors get hold of these gorgeous little beans, they roast them at hight temperatures.  Roasting gets rid of the acids mentioned above and gives the chocolate a milder flavour.  But sadly this heat process destroys so much of the 

natural goodness in the original cacao bean.  Cacao, in its natural state has more than 700 compounds, in fact, research is showing that it is probably one fo the most nutrient densse and phytochemically complex foods on earth today.  Horrifyingly, it has been shown that roasting destroys up to 70% of the antioxidants, up tp 85% of the minerals, and significantly depletes the vitamin C that cacao contains.


But, it gets worse! To "enhance" the flavours of the chocolate, the producers then add huge amounts of sugar.  Now processed sugar has absolutely no nutritional value at all.  All the goodness that may have been present in the original cane is beached out and all that's left are empty calories.  The body cannot use these calories, so therefore insulin is called into the bloodstream to deal with the "spike" in sugar levels.  The insulin, being unable to do anything with this useless sugar, converts it to fat and then dumps it around our organs, promoting obesity, vascular disease and type 2 diabetes.  Processed sugar is also a highly addictive substance.  The more you have the more you want.  It really is a vicious cycle.

It still gets worse!  to lengthen shelf life, and again to make the taste milder, all sorts of additives are used.  Emulsifiers and preservatives such as soya lecithin are added.  This is quite often the last flavour you will be left with on your taste buds, so you go back for another piece to get the flavour of the chocolate back.  


And then there's the added dairy.  Dairy is a perfect food, if you're a calf, but it would appear that foar us humans it is not as beneficial as we have been led to believe.  Studies have shown that adding dairy actually blocks the absorption of antioxidants.  Dairy is linked to prostrate cancer, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, and the over production of mucus in the body.  Many of us lose the enzyme lactase between the ages of 2 and 5 years, which can lead to problems with digestion later on.  Interestingly, countries that consme the least amount of dairy, such as in Africa and Asia, have the lowest rates of osteroporosis.  Not to mention that unless you only use organic products, you are consuming a whole load of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.


Raw chocolate on the other hand, is never heated above 45 deegrees, and therefore the natural goodness is left intact.  The beans are cold pressed to extract the cacao butter, and the remains are then finely ground into powder.  All is as nature intended.   So lets now look at why the Incas named cacao " the food of the gods", and hopefully dispel a few myths at the same time.


Fats:  36% of the fats in cacao are the "good fats", mono and polyunsaturated, of which oleic acid, found in olive oil, makes of the largest proportion.  Oleic acid has been proven to be beneficial to heart health, due to its action as a slicking agent, effectively blocking the calcification in the arteries.  If the saturated fats, over half consists of stearic acid, shown in numerous studies to have a natural impact of blood cholesterol.  Stearic acid converts from a saturated to an unsaturated fat when metabolised in the body.  A study by the department of nutritiion at the University of California, discovered that cacao can actually thin blood and therefore help prevent clots.  In fact, many studies are showing that cardiovascular health is significantly better in populations that eat more cacao.


Stimulant:  Cacao is often given bad press regarding its caffeine content, but in reality the caffeine content is minimal.  An average bar would contain about 10% of the caffeine found in a 10oz cup of coffee.  Cacao does however, have twice as much theobromine, which as a cardiovascular stimulant, increases blood flow and heart function.  But theobromine only has 25% of th stimulating power of caffeine.  Studies have shown that raw chocolate can actually help with relaxation and good sleep.

It gets better, Vitamins and Antioxidants:  Although cacao does contain many vitamins such as many of the B vits, vits C, D, and E, its real benefits come with its high content of polyphenols called flavanoids, that have huge antioxidant properties.  its antioxidant score or "OREC" is over 13,000 per 100g. This is more than blueberries and red wine combined.  Catechins, which are the active natural phenols in green tea are at their highest concentration in cacao.  It also contains high levels of anthocyanins, commonly found in red wine and dark fruits and berries.  The good news is that polyphenols help prevent ageing by protecting our cells from premature oxidation or destruction.  an you think of a better tasting anti-ageing tool?


Many of the minerals that we are so deficient in these days are found in abundance in raw chocolate, such as:  Zinc, so good for boosting our immune systems, our liver, pancreas and our skin.  Chromium, which is a trace mineral that helps to balance our blood sugars.  Iron, of which cacao, at a huge 7.3mg per 100mg, is the highest plant based source.  Calcium, 160mg per 100mg, as opposed to 125mg in milk.  Magnesium, such an important mineral, helping with the relaxation and healing of muscles right throughout the body.  It fights acid build up, quietens nerves, calms pain sensitivity, builds strong bones and teeth and protects against osteoporosis.  With our western diet, up to 80% of us are said to be deficient in this mineral, which is found in its highest quantities in cacao.


But, in the tradition of saving the best till last, lets talk about "phytochemicals":  There is a good reason behind chocolate being considered the perfect gift for valentines and loved ones.  Raw chocolate is absolutely packed with feel good phytochemicals, which again are significantly depleted in processed chocolate. These include:

Seratonin.  Not only does chocolate contain serotonin, but it helps to boost the bodies own production of this neurotransmitter.  Seratonin is known for its ability to boost mood and reduce stress.  Chocolate is natures Prozac.

Dopamine, another neurotransmitter, which helps to boost mood and motivation.

Courmarin, which is an appetite suppressant.  Yes, chocolate may possibly help you lose weight!  It is also shown to have anti- tumour properties.


Anandamine.  In Sanskrit, Ananda means “bliss”.  It is a neurotransmitter released by the brain when feeling happy.  Cacao contains an enzyme inhibitor which stops the breakdown of anandamine in the brain and increases its uptake.

P.E.A. or phenylethylamine, is a neurotransmitter produced when we fall in love.  It is an opiate like chemical and also an aphrodisiac.  Raw cacao has very high amounts of this, in fact the only other food on earth with p.e.a. is Blue Green Algae.


So there it is, raw cacao has so many benefits, it has truly earned the status of superfood.


Deliciously Honest makes raw chocolate and confectionery, free from processed sugars, dairy and gluten.  All are handmade with lots of love, and are full of all the above benefits and natures goodness.  You can treat yourself to sweet treats and still do yourself some good at the same time.

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