You’ve most likely heard about dark chocolate and its health benefits, but did you know that raw chocolate has even more great health benefits than any other type of chocolate? From a high concentration of vitamins and minerals to an extraordinary amount of antioxidants, raw chocolate is typically considered a healthier, more nutritious treat. You can add it to a variety of foods you probably already eat in the form of raw cacao powder or cacao nibs for a guilt-free snack.
So what is raw chocolate anyway? Raw chocolate is produced with unroasted cacao beans, and no dairy products or processed sugar is added. Keep reading to learn more facts about raw chocolate and ways to include it in your diet.
What is raw chocolate?
Raw chocolate is made with pure, unroasted cacao beans. The process for how to make raw chocolate is exact—the cacao beans must not be heated higher than 118°F/48°C.
While the beans are not roasted, they are fermented. Fermentation breaks down the high levels of tannin in cacao and eases some of the bitter flavor. Raw chocolate has a more natural taste than chocolate made with roasted cacao beans. It is a whole, organic food that contains live enzymes and is sweetened with natural sweeteners instead of processed sugar.
Fine & raw chocolate comes from the criollo arriba cacao bean, which is one of the highest quality cacao beans available. The criollo arriba cacao bean makes up only 1 percent of the cacao production in the world.
Benefits of raw chocolate
Raw chocolate benefits include those also found in dark chocolate but to a much greater degree. From heart-healthy oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat) to protein to fiber, raw chocolate is chock full of healthy nutrients along with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 and E and minerals magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium and manganese. The high concentration of magnesium found in raw chocolate helps with relaxation and heals the muscles throughout the entire body.
The nutrients found in raw chocolate have been linked to a variety of health benefits:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol
- Improves circulation
- Improves cardiovascular function
- Protects against cell damage caused by free radicals
- Improves digestion
- Boosts mood
- Improves brain function
- Reduces lethargy
- Improves memory
- Prevents premature aging
- Protects skin
Raw chocolate contains flavonoids that have more antioxidants than blueberries, red wine, goji berries and pomegranates combined. It also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that protects against stress.
Is raw chocolate safe to eat?
Raw chocolate should be consumed in moderation. For all its health benefits, it can be dangerous to eat an excessive amount of raw chocolate. Theobromine, a cardiovascular stimulant that increases heart function and blood flow and energy levels, is found in raw chocolate. However, ingesting too much theobromine can lead to theobromine poisoning, which can cause heart failure, seizures, dehydration and kidney damage.
Another factor to consider is the bacterial growth that occurs during fermentation. In traditional processing, bacteria and other pathogens are killed during the roasting process. In order to ensure the raw cacao is safe to eat, it is important for the chocolate maker to know the source and the sanitation methods used at the cacao farm.
Is raw chocolate the same as dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate and raw chocolate are similar in many ways, but there are several significant differences.
- Living enzymes: Raw chocolate contains living enzymes that are preserved even through processing. Dark chocolate has been heated, and this process kills the enzymes.
- Added sugar: Dark chocolate has added sugar, which gives it a higher glycemic index than raw chocolate. While some raw chocolate brands do have added natural sugars, none have refined sugar like dark chocolate.
- Dairy: Dark chocolate often contains milk or traces of milk. Raw chocolate does not contain any milk at all.
- Mycotoxins: Mycotoxins are a type of fungus found on fermented foods like peanuts, coffee, mushrooms and dark chocolate. Mycotoxins have been associated with sugar cravings, overgrowth of yeast in the gut and a weakened immune system. Raw chocolate is processed using a method that prevents mycotoxin production.
- Antioxidants: Dark chocolate has fewer antioxidants than raw chocolate.
How to Fit Raw Chocolate into Your Diet?
Are you wondering how to fit raw chocolate into your diet? Raw chocolate can be consumed as raw cacao powder, cacao nibs or cacao beans. Add it to the following to reap the health benefits:
- Smoothies: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder to your smoothie or sprinkle cacao nibs on top to add some crunch to your treat.
- Cacao nibs: Try cacao nibs in ice cream, granola mix, pancakes, fruit, muffins, yogurt, oatmeal or fruit smoothies.
- Raw brownies: For those with vegan and paleo lifestyles, raw brownies are a nice treat free of dairy, wheat, gluten and sugar.
- Baked goods: Use cacao powder in biscotti, pudding, strawberry shortcakes, zucchini bread, cookies and cakes.
- Cacao bar: Enjoy a few squares of raw organic chocolate with your favorite tea and a handful of fruit or nuts.
- Chocolate milk: To make chocolate milk with raw chocolate, use almond milk since research has shown that regular milk can decrease the effectiveness of calcium and the other qualities of cacao. Add 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder and 1 to 2 tablespoons of organic sweetener to 1 cup of almond milk. For cold chocolate milk, first dissolve the raw cacao powder and sweetener in 1 tablespoon of hot milk. Then, add ice cubes and cold almond milk.
- Hot chocolate: For hot chocolate, use the same recipe as above, but heat the milk mixture on the stove to warm it up.
- Snack bars: Make snack bars with raw cocoa powder, cacao nibs, cashews and dates.
- Raw cocoa powder: Add to your favorite protein drink.
If you’re wondering where to buy raw chocolate, contact us at Cococlectic. While we don’t sell raw chocolate, we do sell dark chocolate, and we believe it also has numerous health benefits. If you are open to trying dark chocolate, we can recommend some dark chocolate options for you to purchase.
Cococlectic features a different American small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker each month. These chocolate makers are passionate about their products and create their chocolate bars from scratch using only three main ingredients: cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter.
At Cococlectic, the chocolates we feature are vegan, non-GMO, fair-trade and ethically sourced. They do not contain any soy, gluten, dairy or nut, but they may be produced in a facility that handles these ingredients.
Sign up for a chocolate-of-the-month subscription club and join us for a free virtual chocolate tasting with our featured chocolate maker of the month.