The first cacao powder with an approved EU health claim that it ‘helps maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow’ tastes pretty good for a medicine that can lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke.
Cacao health benefits
Cacao is made from raw, fermented and dried beans harvested from the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. These are processed without high heat to produce cacao powder to retain the highest level of a type of antioxidant polyphenols known as flavanols. Darker cocoa powder is made from beans that are roasted before processing. This brings out a fuller flavour but significantly reduces their antioxidant content, although what remains still gives cocoa a flavanol content that is higher than almost all other foods – except cacao in fact.
In comparison to normal cocoa powder, which typically provides 500mg flavanols per 100g, Aduna Super-Cacao, made from selected, high-flavanol cacao beans blended with single-origin beans from Ghana, provides eight times more – an extraordinary 4000mg flavanol polyphenols per 100g cacao powder.
It is this Super-Cacao which is the first to gain the approved EU health claim relating to cardiovascular health, elasticity of arteries and blood circulation. To obtain the benefits seen in clinical trials, a ‘dose’ of 200mg cocoa flavanols is required, which you can obtain from just 2 teaspoons (5 grams) of Aduna Super-Cacao.
No promises, but you’re unlikely to put on weight
Many people shun a nice, medicinal glass of drinking cocoa because of concerns about weight gain. Good news – studies consistently show that people who eat or drink the most chocolate do not have a higher weight or body mass index (BMI) than those who do not eat chocolate. In fact, many studies show they have a lower BMI due to suppression of appetite and increased fat burning in muscle cells. I’ve reviewed these studies and the mechanisms involved here.
A daily dose of cocoa (made with cacao) can lower blood pressure (by an average of 4.5/2.5mmHg), improve cholesterol balance (by raising ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol and reducing oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol), and also has an aspirin-like action to prevent unwanted blood clots. As a result of all these benefits combined, regular intakes of cocoa/dark chocolate reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke by at least a quarter and, according to some long-term trials, halves these risks. Click here to read more about these studies.
The best medicinal night-cap
For a healthy drinking chocolate, add 250ml hot milk (try soy, almond or hazelnut milks) to 3 teaspoons of Aduna Super-Cacao powder (which will provide 300mg cocoa flavanols) and sweeten with a teaspoon (5ml) maple syrup or a little Stevia. I like to add a dash of vanilla extract, too, just like the Aztecs. Whisk to produce a tasty, frothy drink which the Aztecs named chicolatl, meaning ‘beaten drink’ – it’s where the name of chocolate derives.
Image credits: andrisTkacenko/depositphotos