Health Fitness Enjoy Your Chocolate - Just make it raw

by Monica Shah - Date: 2007-03-12 - Word Count: 514 Share This!

Most people love chocolate but have never tried the raw food where chocolate comes from: cacao beans. People around the world have treasured cacao beans for centuries - in ancient cultures it was used as a currency. Today you can find it in the raw food section of your local health food store. It comes labeled as whole cacao beans, cacao nibs (crushed beans) and raw cacao powder (powdered cacao beans).

And with the dairy and sugar out of the way, you can enjoy raw chocolate without guilt for so many reasons. First, the magnesium in raw chocolate supports your heart. Magnesium helps decrease blood coagulation, thus helping to lower blood pressure and helping the heart to beat efficiently.

Second it helps you stay young. Cacao beans contain high amounts of antioxidants comparable to the levels in green tea and red wine. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, major culprits in the aging process.

Third, it helps you focus. Cacao beans can contain up to 2.2% Phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA increases the activity of neurotransmitters in your brain, helping you to stay focused, alert and captivated - like when you are reading a really good book (or this newsletter :)).

Fourth, it creates bliss (yes, every chocolate fan knows this one). Cacao beans contain Anandamide. Anandamide is called the "bliss chemical" because it is released when we are feeling great.

And finally, plain and simple: raw chocolate makes you happy. Raw chocolate is a great source of serotonin, phenylethylamine and dopamine, three neurotransmitters that help alleviate depression and promote feelings of well-being.

Chocolate is healthiest if it is dark with less added dairy products and refined sugars. Raw cacao beans have no added dairy or sugar so they are clearly the best option.

So how do you eat these precious beans? Well, cacao beans can be a little bitter to the raw chocolate newbie. So it is best to combine them with something sweet such as raisins. A great snack idea is a trail mix with raisins, cacao nibs (crushed beans), and your choice of nuts. Or make a chocolate smoothie by throwing them in your blender with milk, soy milk, almond milk or yogurt and your favorite sweetener. A 1.4 ounce serving of chocolate has about as much caffeine as one cup of decaffeinated coffee, so you don't have to worry too much about the caffeine. But do be careful, I once overdosed on some raw chocolate goodies and was up until three in the morning. To get you started, my favorite raw chocolate recipe is below: a healthy version of my most coveted "unhealthy" treat, peanut butter cups. Enjoy it. I know that I do.

Founder of Ideal Balance, Monica Shah is a holistic nutrition and life balance expert. She helps busy professionals find simple ways to eat better, exercise and find more balance in their lives. Often called "the irreverent nutritionist", Monica's approach to being healthy is simple, fun and long-lasting. To find out more about her program and to sign up for her FREE initial consultation and FREE nutrition tips please visit

Related Tags: health, nutrition, chocolate, self care, well being

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