(TRFW News) We all know chocolate is good for our mood and appetite, but raw cacao is especially good for heart health and digestion. Raw cacao is a superfood many people have enjoyed for years, and research supports that the benefits of cacao are more than just hype. Raw cacao nibs have been linked to lower blood pressure, a healthier blood flow, reduced risk of stroke, and even better digestion. (1)
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology and The Journal of Internal Medicine both conducted studies to test the effects of cacao on the frequency of stroke and heart attacks in humans. They found that those who consumed cacao several times a day had a large decrease in strokes and in heart attacks combined. Cacao contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to lower bad cholesterol, known as LDL cholesterol, and increase the levels of beneficial cholesterol, known as HDL cholesterol. (1)
Cocoa flavanols have also been linked to many health benefits that further contribute to heart health including, but not limited to, improved blood flow and arterial elasticity, lower blood pressure, and lower amounts of platelet aggregation. Cacao has also been found to be especially anti-inflammatory to the heart and lowers the risk for heart disease. (2)
Cacao beans are the seeds, often referred to as beans, of the cacao fruit, and all seeds contain high amounts of nutrients. Cacao is one of the best sources of dietary fiber and is rich in magnesium. Both fiber and magnesium help prevent constipation and contribute to overall good digestive health. (1)
In addition, cacao nibs and cacao powder both contain good levels of iron and potassium. (3)
Though specific amounts are not given when it comes to chocolate intake, it is helpful to remember that raw cacao is always best since it retains more nutrients than heated varieties. Since chocolate and cacao are both high in fat and calories, it’s best to moderate your portions to a few ounces a day. (3,4)
Raw cacao is often added to smoothies, energy bars, vegan superfoods, and many nutritional superfood powders; just a few great ways to include cacao in your daily diet!
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