Grown under a canopy of shade trees (often banana trees, coconut palms and rubber trees) and rich soils, the cacao tree forms large seed pods. Inside the pods nestle little cacao beans in a creamy pulp. These beans are carefully harvested, fermented, sun-dried, and cold-pressed.
They have a heavenly aroma and pack a surprising nutritional punch. Raw cacao has a huge Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC), surpassing even bee pollen, wild blueberries and goji berries. It’s the best source for magnesium known, which increases brainpower, supports the heart, helps build strong bones and increases flexibility.
Cacao also contains iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, copper, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin c, serotonin and fiber. And because it likes to go the extra mile, cacao also contains phenylethylamine and anandamide, so-called bliss chemicals, leaving you subtly happy and alert.
For raw chocolate, the husks of the beans are removed and the bean is ground into a paste. This is how we receive our cacao at Wild and Alive. We then add a pinch of Celtic sea salt, a little more organic cacao butter and organic coconut sugar, and stone-grind the mixture for several hours. Short of eating the beans or nibs (bits of cacao beans… a delicious topping on pretty much everything), raw chocolate with a high percentage of cacao content is in our opinion the best way to take advantage of cacao’s many health benefits.
For ‘regular’ chocolate, the cacao beans are roasted, creating a slightly different taste profile, and loosing nutritional benefits in the process. Moreover, roasting cacao (or any other food really) creates harmful substances such as acrylamide. To get the most bang for your buck with regards to cacao, Ebonyzer is your particular pal with 70% cacao content and no filling.