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Raw chocolate, how healthy is that?

  1. Almost everyone likes chocolate. We therefore like to believe that this brown gold can also be healthy. No wonder raw chocolate is so on the rise. But is it really as healthy as they say?

  1. Chocolate as a superfood. It sounds too good to be true. And it actually is. That is, if you are talking about the stuff that most people know as chocolate. These bars contain additives such as sugars and fats. The chocolate that is meant is the purest form: only unheated cocoa products, especially the raw cocoa beans and the cocoa nibs. And that makes the taste much more bitter than the chocolate bars that most people in the supermarket reach for.

What is raw cocoa?

  1. Everyone knows cocoa of course as the raw material for chocolate. Cocoa beans grow in a large oval cocoa fruit on a tree in Central and South America. Normally cocoa is roasted and ground at very high temperatures. According to experts, raw cocoa contains many good nutrients in large quantities, which would have been lost if you heated the cocoa. Think of antioxidants, various minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and chromium, but also omega-6 fatty acids and various vitamins. In addition, raw cocoa also contains theobromine and caffeine, two substances with a stimulating effect.

Anti-stress

  1. All the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in raw cocoa are said to not only help protect against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis, but also reduce stress, relax the muscles and improve cognitive functions. It is also said to be a mild antidepressant and aphrodisiac.

Voting Creator

  1. In any case, cocoa improves your mood because it contains tryptophan, which naturally makes you happy, reduces stress and relaxes. Tryptophan works on your serotonin balance, the substance that positively influences your mood. Tryptophan is also found in bananas, avocados and pecans. Cocoa also contains phenylethylamine (PEA) with the same stimulating effect. This and the fact that the magnesium it contains works against menstrual cramps makes it a popular snack for women with PMS.

What can you do with it?

  1. Raw cocoa and cocoa nibs can be used in smoothies, yogurt or cottage cheese or on a pancake. Make sure that there is always raw cocoa on the packaging, a 'normal' box from the supermarket is generally not raw cocoa. There are even people who crush cocoa nibs and use it as healthy sprinkles. You can also use it to bake brownies, for example, but then it is of course no longer raw. It does not matter for the baking itself, but heating does destroy a number of nutrients.

Side Effects

  1. Raw cocoa is not suitable for everyone. Some people develop digestive problems such as stomach pain, nausea and constipation. If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), elevated blood sugar or diabetes, it is wise to consult your specialist before use. Also do this for gastroesophageal reflux disease, migraine or an anxiety or heart rhythm disorder. Do you need surgery? Then stop taking raw cocoa from two weeks before the operation, because of the effect on your blood sugar level. Finally, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume too much of it, because of the stimulating effect of the theobromine and caffeine.

Health claims

  1. In any case, scientists confirm that raw cocoa has a positive effect on heart and blood vessels. Studies have also shown that antioxidants alone do nothing for the body. However, there are also plenty of studies in which antioxidants, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, have a clear effect on health. Since raw cocoa contains countless other beneficial nutrients in addition to antioxidants, the combination would be the one that has a positive effect. Opinions are divided about the effects of raw cocoa on diabetes, weight loss and depression. Some scientists believe that these claims have not yet been conclusively proven. Others say that raw cocoa increases insulin sensitivity, probably due to the flavonoids present. In addition, raw cocoa contains the mineral chromium, which has been shown to balance blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Proponents say this has a positive effect on the hormone balance, making the body better able to burn fat instead of storing it. A direct link between losing weight and eating raw cocoa has never been proven, because no one eats cocoa exclusively.

Enjoy in moderation

  1. All this does not alter the fact that there are plenty of other sources of antioxidants and flavonoids, so you don't have to rely on raw cocoa just to get them. In fact, a healthy and varied diet remains the most important. But many people find raw cocoa very tasty as well as healthy, whether in the form of a raw chocolate bar or cocoa nibs. And there's nothing wrong with enjoying it now and then.

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