What is Cacao? Meet the healthier chocolate alternative

Pic: Pexels

Look, we all love chocolate but there can be too much of a good thing. (Yes, really!)

But there are actual health benefits to consuming chocolate, as its primary ingredient, cacao, has plenty of positives. 

While cacao is often turned into chocolate bars and the like, you can buy it in a rawer form and begin including it in your diet frequently.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by EleganteLab (@elegantelab)

Where does Cacao come from?

Cacao comes from a plant called Theobroma Cacao. It originated in South America in the Amazon Basin but is now being grown further afield, like in many African countries and Central America.

These plants require a high level of heat but also a significant amount of rainfall yearly. Shame Ireland can’t be a bit warmer because the rainfall levels would be perfect for it. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nut Ordinary ® (@nutordinary)

How does Cacao become chocolate?

Firstly, the cacao pods are harvested. This process can take up to five years. 

Then, the seeds in each pod are fermented so the aroma can develop. 

Once dried after seven days, the beans are roasted. The outer shell gets removed to reach the edible bit, which then gets ground into a powder.

From there, it is ready to be sent to manufacturers to become chocolate or other cacao-related products. 

What are Cacao’s benefits?

While many people lament chocolate’s high sugar content, cacao does not have this issue. It is full of things everyone should include in their diet.

  • Cacao is a superfood that is packed full of antioxidants. 
  • There are plenty of minerals in cacao, including calcium, which helps strengthen bones. Its magnesium has a calming effect. The iron content will boost your immune system. 
  • It is an antidepressant thanks to having serotonin. It also has caffeine, which we all know can give you that much-needed energy boost.
  • It is known to reduce blood pressure and inflammation and improve blood flow, a necessity for your heart’s health.
@coherenceretreats Join us at a future retreat to sit in a cacao ceremony with us ✨🫶 1. Ceremonial grade cacao, also known as “The Food of the Gods,” has been used for centuries by indigenous cultures in Central and South America for its spiritual and medicinal properties. 2. Cacao contains theobromine, a natural stimulant that provides a gentle and sustained energy boost, promoting mental clarity and focus during spiritual practices. 3. The high content of antioxidants in ceremonial cacao helps to support the immune system and protect the body from free radicals, promoting overall health and well-being. 4. Cacao is rich in magnesium, which helps to relax muscles and promote a sense of calm and relaxation, making it an ideal companion for meditation and inner exploration. 5. The presence of phenylethylamine (PEA) in ceremonial cacao stimulates the release of endorphins, promoting feelings of joy, love, and euphoria, enhancing the spiritual experience. 6. Ceremonial cacao is often consumed in a ceremonial setting, where it is prepared with intention and reverence, creating a sacred space for deep inner work and connection. 7. The ritual of drinking ceremonial cacao can help to open the heart chakra, allowing for emotional healing, self-love, and a deeper connection to oneself and others. 8. Cacao ceremonies often incorporate other spiritual practices such as meditation, breathwork, sound healing, and intention setting, creating a holistic and transformative experience. 9. Ceremonial cacao is believed to have the ability to facilitate spiritual insights, enhance intuition, and support the manifestation of intentions, making it a powerful tool for personal growth and transformation. 10. The experience of drinking ceremonial cacao is often described as a journey of self-discovery, where individuals can connect with their inner wisdom, release emotional blockages, and tap into their true potential. #cacaoceremony #cacao #ceremonialcacao #womensretreats #spiritualretreats ♬ son original – Science_cast

How to add Cacao to your diet?

While chocolate is the simple answer to this question, it won’t have all the health benefits previously discussed.

However, if you prefer that, reach for dark chocolate, as the percentage of cacao is much higher than milk or white chocolate. 

Cacao nibs are a better option and are best incorporated into something rather than eaten alone. 

You can add them to some yoghurt, smoothies, cookies, granola or chia seed puddings. 

Alternatively, you can consume cacao powder. This can be put in hot chocolate, or you can find a cake recipe that uses cacao powder rather than the typical chocolate chips.

It works in smoothies as well. Also, many protein powders now contain cacao powder to improve flavour. 

Where to buy Cacao

Dunnes Stores currently has a 120g bag of cacao nibs for sale for €4.99. Or you can grab a bag of organic nibs from Holland & Barrett while buying your other health essentials.

For cacao powder, Tesco has a 200g pack for €7.49. If you want a protein powder option, Holland & Barrett has a vegan 900g bag for €35.

So embrace the raw cacao forms and how beneficial they will be to your health in the long run.

Words by Amélie Mahony


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

google ads
VIP Live - The home of Irish celebrities