Today we celebrate Chocolate Day! Woop Woop! Not milk chocolate though. I'm talking about the high cacao, rich, dark chocolate we crave and love. Even better, pure cacao is a superfood that contains a lot of beneficial nutrients. Let’s celebrate all things true and pure about chocolate on this well-deserving day.
Chocolate, Cacao, and All Its Parts
Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao, which has been cultivated for at least 3,000 years, is grown in Mexico, Central America and Northern Southern America. The cacao tree seeds have a very intense, bitter taste that must be fermented to develop the flavor.
Once the seeds have been fermented, the cacao beans are dried, cleaned and roasted. After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The cacao nibs are then ground into a cocoa mass, which is pure unsweetened chocolate in rough form. The cocoa mass is usually liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients. At this point of the process it’s called chocolate liquor, which may then be processed into two components cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
Delicious and Good For You!
Cacao is incredibly high in antioxidants. Cacao is also is the highest plant-based source of iron, double that of spinach, and is rich in magnesium and calcium, two critical minerals your body needs for cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal health.
There's also a reason that chocolate makes you feel better; cacao contains the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine, chemicals associated with making you feel happy and blissful. Cacao is also rich in caffeine and theobromine, a caffeine-like stimulant and potent diuretic.
If you’re a chocolate lover, cacao liquor is a must try. As the name might imply, it doesn’t contain alcohol, and if you add a little sweetener, this superfood is transformed into a super good dessert, hot chocolate, snack or treat any time of the day!
This is one of the easiest ways to add nutrient rich cacao to your diet. Cacao has a dark, robust flavor profile due to its unique growing environment.
How to Observe Today?
Go out to your favorite restaurant and indulge in a delicious chocolate dessert or try these delicious cacao berry clarity bars. Make a nice hot chocolate, add cacao powder to your chocolate smoothie, or snack on these dark cacao macaroons.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods