If you’re a chocolate lover, a genuine chocolate lover (not to be confused with a sugar and milk lover) then you will know that cacao is the real deal.
It’s where it all begins in the world of chocolate. Cacao beans come from the cacao tree and they are what eventually get turned into chocolate. True cacao is bitter, complex, and earthy. I say complex because there are notes of sweet and almost smoky flavors mixed in with the obvious bitter, if you can stay with it and let it mellow out as you chew and savor. Of course, the various nuances of flavor are dependent on the terroir, making the world of cacao as mysterious and sometimes pretentious as the world of wine.
Cacao becomes cocoa and/or chocolate through a multi-stage process that includes fermenting, roasting, separating, drying and depending on the desired end product, a multitude of other actions. Suffices to say that at the end of all of that processing, most of what we know as chocolate has been so diluted that any of the potential health benefits no longer exist.
From a health perspective, I’m sure you’ve all heard that a little bit of chocolate a day is actually good for you. Well, that should actually be “ a little bit of cacao” a day is good for you. It’s the raw cacao that is actually imparting any health benefits, which is why there is typically a caveat that the chocolate needs to be 80% or more and not the run of the mill chocolate bar off the conventional market shelf. (I find most people don’t really pay attention to that part). Truth, cacao is very good for you. It is extremely high in flavonoids and antioxidants. It has fiber. It helps regulate the nervous system and balance serotonin. Research demonstrates that it also can be beneficial in the battle against insulin resistance. Its bitter quality enhances digestion and it protects your cardiovascular system. What’s not to love??? Well, it is quite bitter and it’s a taste you may have to cultivate. But it’s well worth it.
Little added endnote: So lately I’ve been on an all natural everything kick, including body products. I started using raw cacao powder as a foundation for my face... Love it!! Smells great, feels great, and my skin looks fantastic. Only sayin....