Taking your kids out for a night of trick-or-treating is one of the most fun things you can do as a parent. Spooky decorations, fun costumes, and of course…chocolate bars! Lots and lots of chocolate bars.
Unfortunately, candy companies have made a fortune using cheap fillers, substitutes for natural sweeteners, and processed chocolate instead of real chocolate (cacao).
Real chocolate comes from the cacao pod which grows on a cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). The different ways you can process the fruit and beans of the cacao pod create different forms of chocolate. When the cacao beans are dried and kept raw, we continue to call it “cacao”. When it’s heated to high temperatures during processing, it becomes “cocoa”.
Does it really matter if we eat cacao or cocoa?
Yes, it does!
Cocoa is sweeter, but unfortunately, the majority of the nutrients that make the cacao bean so special are lost during the high-temperature processing. Most cocoa powders also have added sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and emulsifiers which reduce the cost and further sweeten the flavor. We talked about these ingredients in our article, The Worst Halloween Candy Ingredients to Avoid and What to Eat Instead, if you’d like to learn more about them.
The benefits of Cacao, however, are huge. Due to its high nutrient content and all the systems in your body it positively affects, cacao is a true superfood. It’s worth paying attention to whether that chocolate bar you’re eating lists cocoa or cacao as its first ingredient because it literally makes the difference between harming or helping your body.
The benefits of raw cacao
- Longevity: Cacao beans are packed with antioxidants, specifically phenolic phytochemicals and flavonoids. These protect our cells against the free radical damage that causes premature aging amongst other health conditions.
- Brain Function: Cacao has the power to boost your mood and cognitive performance. It contains a flavonoid called epicatechin, which supports healthy cognition and brain function as we age. It also contains Anandamide, referred to as the “bliss molecule,” because of how happy it makes us feel.
- Heart Health: The polyphenols called flavanols along with the procyanidins in cacao support healthy blood pressure, blood vessel flexibility, insulin levels, glucose production, and increase antioxidant capacity in the blood plasma – all of which contribute to a healthy heart.
- Mineral-Rich: Raw cacao is an excellent source of magnesium, which is critical for proper formation and strength of our bones, calcium absorption, heart function, mood balance, sleep, muscle function, and digestion. It also offers a natural form of iron that our body can utilize easily as well as potassium, calcium, zinc, and copper. All of these support our immune system strength, energy, cardiovascular system, and skeletal system.
- Beauty Boosting: The oil in cacao is not only delicious but can restore moisture to our hair and is an excellent topical skin moisturizer. Its antioxidants powerfully work against fine lines and wrinkles to turn back the hands of time.
What are the different forms of cacao?
If you’re buying or eating chocolate bars made with cacao, you may see different types of cacao as ingredients in them such as paste, butter, or nibs. Each has it’s own flavor profile and texture:
The beans are taken out of the pod, dried, and then you can eat them! Longevity Warehouse® has a dedicated chocolate processing facility in Ecuador where the beans are hand-picked from the pods, placed on cane covered in banana leaves, and then left to dry.
The cacao beans are crushed into tiny pieces which are often used to sprinkle on top of raw desserts, puddings, smoothies, and are added to chocolate bars for crunchy texture.
The cacao nibs are ground down into a liquid state, which then solidifies after grinding into smooth sheets. Cacao paste is what many real, raw chocolate bars are created from because it holds that ‘chocolate bar’ shape so well.
The heart-healthy oil of the cacao bean is cold-pressed out. At room temperature, it solidifies, but when it’s warmed up it melts into a delicious oil. This oil is fantastic to create raw chocolate instead of a processed, unhealthy oil. It is also nature’s most antioxidant-rich moisturizer. Our skin LOVES cacao butter! (Beware of an ingredient called Palsgaard 4150 (PGPR). This is what companies use instead of actual cacao butter. It is approved safe for human consumption if under 7.5 milligrams per kilo of body weight. Over this amount and your liver will begin to enlarge!)
After the cacao butter is pressed from the bean, the remaining parts are milled into a powder. When you want to create a chocolate smoothie, this is what you want to use – it’s often used in the creation of chocolate bars as well.
Is the brand of cacao used in your chocolate bars important?
This is a resounding YES.
As we discussed in our last blog post, Real Chocolate May Soon Be Extinct, the jungles of real, heirloom cacao are being destroyed and replaced with fields of CCN-51, a highly profitable, man-made, bland variation of cacao with almost no nutritional value. The chocolate products created with this cacao are also being called into question for their higher-than-safe levels of heavy metals, which can wreak long-term havoc in our bodies.
When you buy cacao products from companies that sell jungle-grown, heirloom cacao, you are saving the jungles from further destruction and helping to save this precious superfood from extinction on our planet.
At Longevity Warehouse® we ONLY buy jungle-grown cacao. We work one-on-one with the farmers in Ecuador who own the land the heirloom plants grow on. We have our own dedicated cacao processing facility to ensure there is no possible contamination of our cacao with the inferior CCN-51 cacao.
There is a lot of false marketing claims by chocolate retailers. If you’re not sure where your favorite chocolate bars get their cacao from, give them a call and ask.
Here’s what we can tell you about Longevity Warehouse® brand:
- Derived from pure Ecuadorian, Arriba Criollo, Jungle Grown Cacao Beans.
- The wild organic cacao trees are a minimum of 30 years old and some are more than 80 years old!
- Nourished from rainwater or deep mountain spring water – never irrigated from potentially contaminated rivers and streams.
- Brought down from the mountainous regions via donkey back.
- Beans are hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, when they are fully mature and ripe.
- No mycotoxins, mold, yeast, and fungus on the beans.
- No jitters because the quality of the bean is so pure.
- State-of-the-art Processing Facility: The wild jungle grown cacao is only processed in our dedicated raw organic cacao facility on custom artisan equipment that has never seen any other cacao but our own, so there is no possible integration with lesser quality cacao.
- Cacao beans are always sun-dried and never gas dried.
- Cacao remains 100% raw from start to finish.
- The purity of the cacao beans results in a deep, intense, raw chocolate flavor.
Tonight when you’re looking at the kids candy haul, quickly check out the ingredients of the chocolate bars. Beyond avoiding the obvious ones like artificial colors that have been linked to hyperactivity in children, hydrogenated oils (like palm kernel or soybean oil) which are linked to heart disease/belly fat, and “Corn Syrup” which is a one-way ticket to obesity and diabetes, pay attention to what kind of chocolate they contain.
Reading labels and removing anything with harmful ingredients while dividing up the Halloween loot can help to ensure your children grow up healthy and strong!