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Cacao is a superfood used by people in Central and South America for centuries. It's a 'superfood' because it contains many powerful nutrients that can support your body to flourish. It comes from a small tree native to the Amazon Basin. The cacao tree grows throughout the tropics. Most cacao today comes from Africa and South America.
Cacao's global popularity is evident with chocolate, but there has been a recent rise in interest in cacao over cocoa for its impressive health and cognitive benefits
What's the difference between cacao and cocoa?
You'll find the seeds of the cacao plant in two forms: cacao or cocoa.
Cocoa is the processed form of chocolate, while cacao is the raw version. Cacao contains more nutritional benefits than cocoa. The main difference between the two is that cacao has undergone much less refinement like roasting, alkalisation and deodorisation; therefore, it retains its natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, cocoa has undergone these processes, which remove most of these nutrients, leaving behind only fat content (cocoa butter).
Health benefits of cacao
Flavonoids are compounds found naturally in many fruits and vegetables and have been associated with health benefits such as reducing inflammation and improving heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, as well as boosting brain power through improved oxygenation throughout your body.
In one animal model study, rats that received regular doses of cacao had improved cognitive performance compared to their peers who were not given the supplement. This improvement was attributed to high levels of flavanols in the cacao powder.
Cacao is rich in iron, copper, magnesium and other essential minerals. Iron helps increase blood flow, while copper and magnesium help increase blood flow and circulation. Cacao is also rich in antioxidants that help your body fight free radicals—the damaging molecules that can cause damage to cells.
Managing stress and mood:
The nutrients like magnesium in cacao also help reduce stress, anxiety, and cortisol levels. It also contains phenylethylamine, which boosts your mood when you feel down.
Cacao is rich in theobromine, a natural stimulant. Theobromine has been shown to affect your mood, energy and focus positively. It also increases blood flow to the brain, which helps you concentrate better!
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