Cacao: Benefits, Way to Use, Side Effects Cacao is the primary ingredient that results in everyone’s favourite food – chocolate. Cacao is a mood elevator, reduces risk of diabetes, and helps maintain blood pressure levels (among many other benefits). It is a rich source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. Cacao can be found and consumed in various forms – powder and nibs forms to go with smoothies and shakes, spreads to go with bread or to dip your cookies in, or for those who just can’t get enough of it, you can consume it as it is in multiple forms. What is Cacao? Acquired from the seeds of an Amazonian fruiting tree, this raw superfood is high in iron, magnesium, and zinc. Along with being a rich source of antioxidants for our hearts, and containing neurotransmitters which add to the overall well-being and happiness. Interestingly, there is another variety which is derived from the Cacao tree, and based on the method of processing it is differentiated and called Cocoa. Benefits of Cacao Powder Cacao contains more antioxidants per gram than the blueberries, Goji berries, red wine, raisins, prunes, and even the most revered fruit – pomegranates. It is an excellent source of fiber and protein. Additionally, there are following benefits of Cacao powder: Good for Diabetes Raw Cacao is a powerhouse of magnesium, and the regular intake of cacao helps to keep the risks of diabetes lower. Healing from Hypertension Magnesium not only helps to keep a check on diabetes but is also helpful in maintaining healthy blood pressure. This, in turn, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and also makes the bones strong along with helping maintain a healthy nervous system. Anti Cancer Properties Cacao has 40 times the antioxidants as present in blueberries. The high content of antioxidants in the plant further helps in removing body toxins thus reducing the risk of developing cancer. Anti-Depressant and Natural Mood Elevator Cacao is a natural powerhouse of some feel-good chemicals – Serotonin, Tryptophan, Tyrosine, and Phenylethylamine. These not only make you feel happy and at peace but also can really alleviate depression. Highest Source of Plant-Based Iron The most important source of natural iron while on a vegan or vegetarian diet, this cacao has the highest content of iron in a plant, 7.3mg per 100gms. More Calcium than Cow’s Milk Planning to start a vegan or dairy-free diet? Cacao has been found to have higher calcium levels than before. Cacao powder has many more benefits and hence cannot be ignored in the daily diet regime to stay fit and healthy and achieve most of your fitness goals. Different Ways to Use Cacao or Cacao Beans The following are ways in which Cacao can be used to make the most of its benefits. Take a look at what’s brewing and enjoy your cuppa! Hot or Cold Chocolate Milk Chocolate Smoothie Grab a Bar of Organic Chocolate Bake a Raw Brownie Make a Deliciously Healthy Nutella Tart Side Effects of Cacao The following side effects of Cacao have been witnessed in some cases and hence must be taken into consideration before planning the regular intake. It is wise to consult the health practitioner or nutritionist if one has any ongoing health condition to be taken care of. Hampers Sleep Cacao may lead to sleep disorders as it contains caffeine. Excessive consumption of Cacao may lead to caffeine-related adverse effects, like rapid heartbeat, restlessness as well as difficulty in sleeping. Causes IBS Symptoms Cacao can be responsible for causing constipation, nausea, and gas as well as stomach pain. Migraine Cacao can trigger a migraine in certain individuals. Weight Gain Commercial Cacao may lead to weight gain as the commercial chocolate is loaded with high amounts of sugar, fat, and additives which are far from being healthy. Causes Skin Damage Cacao can lead to the occurrence of acne and metals such as nickel which is present in Cocoa, causing allergies, skin inflammation, and lesions.