This week we have been discussing the health benefits of dark chocolate and offering delicious energizing recipes featuring dark chocolate (or just eat Hail Merry’s Chocolate Miracle Tarts and Macaroons). The health benefits of dark chocolate are numerous and powerful. Dark chocolate comes from the cocoa bean (or seed) of the cacao tree. Seeds are the “eggs” of plants, packed with life-giving nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, protein and healthy fats. Cocoa is no different, delivering magnesium, fiber, iron and most importantly polyphenol antioxidants in the form of Flavonols.
“Let food by thy medicine and medicine thy food” Hippocrates
These powerful plant antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that cause inflammation and help regulate organic reactions and metabolic functions. Flavonoids have the capacity to reduce inflammation associated with coronary heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and cancer. They are also antiviral and help protect the gut from the harmful bacteria that cause ulcers. The antioxidant health benefit of dark chocolate is a powerful weapon in fighting chronic disease.
What is the difference between cocoa powder and raw cacao powder? Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans that are roasted and then pulverized into a fine powder. Raw cacao powder is simply the cacao bean, which through a cold-press process has had the cacao butter removed and then dehydrated and ground into powder. With the fat removed, raw cacao powder becomes hydroscopic, so it dissolves easily in liquids. Both powders are pungent but raw cacao has a stronger bitter taste. There is much controversy about raw cacao with respect to quality (mold-free), process and source. Therefore Hail Merry chooses to use high integrity natural dark cocoa.
What is the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate? The ORAC is the unit of measurement (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) for the antioxidant value of foods.
ORAC* (Antioxidant) Score per 100 grams of serving (about 1 cup)
Raw Cacao= 28,000
Acai Berries= 18,500
Cocoa Powder= 13, 120
Therefore 1 tablespoon of cocoa has the same antioxidant activity as a 1/3 cup of fresh blueberries- now that is sweet!