Chocolate is one of the world's favorite foods, and considered a vice by many, but did you know that when done right it's one of the healthiest foods on the planet? There is a clear distinction between commercial chocolate, made with highly processed cocoa which has no health benefits, and organic dark chocolate, made with nutrient dense raw cacao and ideally with no added sugar. The element that makes chocolate nutritious is the cacao. Combine it with a good fat and healthy sweetener, and you've got one of the world's most nutrient dense and delicious treats.
Chocolate was considered the food of the gods during the time of the Aztecs (c. 1500) and was widely used in Europe and Asia. In the ORAC scale raw cocao rates a score of 95,500. This is almost four times the amount of antioxidants in Goji Berries, and 56 times that of kale's score of 1,700, making it the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. Cacao contains over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, calcium, tryptophan, seratonin and magnesium. It appears to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food, in which 80 percent of Americans are deficient. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness, and opens up over 300 detoxification and elimination pathways. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.
Cacao products appear to be heart-healthy as well. One of the main health benefits of cacao is for the arteries in your heart and brain. Cacao contains about 1 percent theobromine, an effective anti-bacterial substance which works to kill Streptococci mutans (the primary organism responsible for cavities). Theobromine is a chemical relative of caffeine but it does not act as a nervous system stimulant. It dilates the cardiovascular system making the hearts job easier. Stated another way, it literally opens your heart! The combination of theobromine and magnesium make raw cacao an important part of a heart-healthy diet. If your blood cholesterol is somewhat elevated, cacao polyphenols may also lower your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, and raise your high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol levels.
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