SUPER FOOD OF THE MONTH: Cacao
It turns out that chocolate really does grow on trees! Well, sort of…
What it is: Cacao – at least in the form of raw cacao powder – is a superfood which has 20 times the antioxidant content of blueberries and a whopping 119 times more antioxidants than bananas. By weight, it has more antioxidants than red wine, blue berries, açai, pomegranates and goji berries combined!
Where it’s from: About 70% of the world’s cacao beans come from Africa.
Where it’s grown: The beans grow on the cacao tree and after they have been dried and fermented, they are, according to grammarist.com, known as cocoa and can be processed into cocoa powder, cocoa butter or chocolate.
What it tastes and looks like: Raw cacao beans have a bitter, chocolaty taste, so if you want the benefits of cacao, your best bet is to eat organic, dark chocolate (yay!) containing 70% (or more) cacao.
How to eat it: In bed with a cup of tea and a good book.
A good source of: Over 300 compounds including protein, fibre, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium.
Benefits: Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant – so it helps you to sleep at night and to feel calm during the day. Cacao is incredibly high in antioxidants. Dark chocolate has also been shown to lower blood pressure, which lowers the risk of heart attacks and stroke, while the cacao polyphenols reduce the risk of colon cancer. And we are sure you don’t need us to tell you that chocolate makes you happy and acts as a natural antidepressant (because of the serotonin it contains).
Raw cacao in the form of beans, nibs (sprinkle them on your cereal) or powder, is available in good health food stores. Organic, 70% dark chocolate is readily available in shops countrywide, not least at Woolies. Or try Honest Chocolate.