What is cacao powder?
Cacao powder is the purest form of chocolate. It’s made from grinding up whole cocoa beans and then pressing them into a fine powder. This process removes all the fat and sugar from the cocoa bean, leaving only the pure cocoa solids behind.
The sweet, rich powder left over is a superfood that is high in antioxidants, flavinoids, vitamins and minerals - imparting numerous benefits to health and wellbeing.
Cacao powder vs cocoa powder
Don't confuse cacao powder with cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is made from roasted, ground cocoa beans and often contains sugar.
Cacao powder is unprocessed and doesn’t contain any added ingredients or sweeteners.
What are the benefits of cacao powder?
Cacao truly offers something for everyone. Not only is it a powerful antioxidant loaded with vitamins and minerals, but it also offers mental and cognitive benefits due to the presence of xanthenes like caffeine and theobromine.
Antioxidants and flavinoids
Cacao powder contains a range of antioxidants and flavinoids, which are responsible for the anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic benefits. These compounds have been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as offer anti-inflammatory benefits for those with arthritis.
When consumed in moderate amounts, cacao has been shown to increase alertness and focus. This is due to the presence of xanthenes like caffeine and theobromine, which are stimulants that affect your central nervous system.
Theobromine is a compound that has been shown to stimulate the brain’s pleasure centres, which results in a feeling of euphoria. This is why some people often crave chocolate as a way to elevate their mood.
Source of magnesium
Cacao powder is an excellent source of magnesium, an essential mineral that is needed for hundreds of biological processes in the body. Magnesium’s ability to help regulate heart rate, blood pressure and the nervous system makes it great for relaxation and recovery, and especially powerful in the presence of theobromine.
Cacao is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for bone health. Calcium helps maintain strong teeth and bones, while phosphorus plays an important role in the formation of DNA and RNA.
Cacao can also help ease the symptoms of PMS. Magnesium and theobromine in cacao have a relaxing effect on the nervous system, which may help reduce stress-related cramps and headaches.
Add to that cacao's mood-boosting properties, and you have a great natural remedy for those premenstrual blues.
Cacao can even aid in your weight loss goals. Its stimulating nature can help you get more out of your workouts, while its high fibre content can help you feel fuller longer. Fibre also slows the absorption of sugar, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent insulin spikes that can lead to weight gain.
What makes cacao a superfood?
A superfood is defined as a food that is especially nutrient-rich, containing significant amounts of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, all while being low in calories.
Cacao has all of these in spades. Cacao is particularly rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, manganese, copper and zinc, while also having respectable amounts of the various B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and folate.
High in fibre, antioxidant-rich, and with feel-good chemicals to boot, it's clear that cacao powder deserves its place among the top superfoods on the planet.
How much cacao powder per day?
The recommended daily intake of cacao powder is between 2 - 3 grams per day, which is about a teaspoonful. Most people can handle quite a bit more than that, but due to its effects on the central nervous system, you should avoid taking more than 40 grams per day.
Who should avoid cacao powder?
Cacao powder can be problematic for those with a high sensitivity to caffeine, as it is a stimulant. If you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid using cacao powder in excess.
If you're breastfeeding, it's OK to eat it in small amounts, but extreme amounts could affect the infant.
If you have any concerns about the suitability of consuming cacao powder, please consult your doctor before trying this superfood.
How to add cacao powder to your diet
Cacao powder works well in smoothies, baked goods and hot drinks. Here are a few ways to add it to your diet:
- Mix it into smoothies
- Sprinkle it on top of yogurt or ice cream
- Add it to your morning oats
- Use it as a topping for pancakes or waffles
- Add it to teas or coffee for a real chocolate hit
Better yet, VORA Good Shape Protein - Genuine Chocolate flavour contains pure, raw cacao powder along with 25g of protein and other nutritious and delicious superfoods that will leave you feeling great.
Where to buy cacao powder?
For all your other cacao needs, you can find pure cacao powder anywhere online and in most health food stores, green grocers and larger/metro supermarkets.
If cacao isn't already part of your diet, now's the time to add it. Not only is it delicious, but it also has a ton of health benefits. From improving blood flow to reducing inflammation and aiding weight loss, cacao powder can do wonders for your body!