Get to Know Cacao and Why They’re Perfect for Smoothies

Cacao contains high levels of flavonoids, making it very nutritious. Learn more about the benefits of the theobroma cacao and how you can add it in delicious smoothies.

Cacao has flavonoids

As is usually the case, the native people of South and Central Americacacao tree understood many of the benefits of the fresh cacao fruit even before modern medicine can catch up. Its high level of flavonoids is one of the main reasons why the theobroma cacao is very nutritious. Cacao beans have more antioxidants than acai berries, red wine or blueberries. If you pick up theobroma cacao tree beans at the store to add to your smoothies, just make sure that you’re getting raw cacao so you can reap all the benefits.

Cholesterol

Consuming cacao can improve your cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that it decrease the amount of LDL (or bad) cholesterol among participants, all the while increasing the levels of HDL (or good) cholesterol.

Blood flow

The flavanoids found in cacao have been shown to improve the functioning of blood vessels in the body so blood flow can freely flow. The consequences of improved vascular function are very important and include a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack.

Diabetes

Cacao has been linked to reducing the risk factors of diabetes, like obesity. It also increases resistance to insulin, which is what happens among people with type 2 diabetes. Insulin regulates blood sugar and those who develop resistance to it ends up with diabetes. Resistance can be lowered by consuming cacao for better blood sugar levels.

Obesity

One study found that eating cacao does not increase blood fat cells, so cacao won’t lead to obesity or weight gain. Still, this does not include chocolate products with a high amount of milk fats and sugar.

Blood pressure

Studies have shown that cacao can reduce the blood pressure of participants. Patients that were obese and those with a healthy weight saw the same effect lowered blood pressure after they were given doses of dark chocolate.
Cancer

According to a report, rats that were induced to grow prostate tumors by consuming a carcinogenic chemical and also given cacao extract had fewer tumors and lived longer compared to those who weren’t given the extract. A moderate amount proved to be more effective than an excessive dose of cacao extract.
Brain

Thanks to the high antioxidant levels of cacao, consuming chocolate can help you maintain healthy brain function. Cacao helps improved blood vessel function, so more blood gets to the brain.
Vision

Research has shown that the antioxidants in cacao can improve your vision

Participants in the study consumed dark chocolate and then had their vision tested in several ways. Compared to the control group, they had better contrast sensitivity and shorter reaction times to motion.
Magnesium

Cacao contains more of the mineral magnesium than almost any other food. It’s important to many processes that go on in the body, but is particularly important for bone health.

Vitamin C

As chocolate lovers know, cacao makes you feel better. Cacao is high in the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s connected to mood, appetite and sleep.

Cacao powder or nibs go well with sweet smoothies because then the smoothies are complemented with a chocolate flavor. Know, though, that raw cacao doesn’t taste like a chocolate bar. When using raw cacao, use a natural sweetener like fruit or honey to being out the rich chocolate taste. Experiment with combinations and flavors to find the recipe that best suits you, but a tablespoon of nibs or powder should be good enough. Below are some combinations you might want to try out.

Chocolate, cherry and almond

Use a little almond milk, some frozen or fresh cherries with cacao, and your basic smoothie ingredients to make a drink that tastes like a dessert.

Chocolate, strawberry and banana

Using these three ingredients and a little stevia or honey and some almond milk or water, you will end up with a smoothie tasting like a banana split.
Chocolate. Savor the flavor of pure cacao on its own. Use two tablespoons of cacao powder for a big smoothie, add a banana to make it creamy with coconut, almond, honey, raw or hemp milk for a delicious and purely chocolate smoothie.

Chocolate and cayenne

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, consider trying this unorthodox combination. Make a simple chocolate smoothie with cacao and add some spicy cayenne pepper.

The health benefits of the cacao cannot be denied. And the best part is that you can add them to your smoothies to further amp their flavor. Go to your local health food store if you’re looking for cacao products that you can consume or add to your favorite recipes. Also look online for cacao tree and other cacao products.

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