Eating Chocolate for Healthy Brains and Happy Hearts

It's easy to forget that our chocolate bars began life as the seeds of a tropical fruit. Cacao is a superfood; although people love its seeds dried, fermented, stone ground and transformed into traditional chocolate treats, don't confuse it for candy. In fact, in the past ten years of extensive research into cacao, scientists have uncovered health benefits previously unknown.

Cacao has high levels of natural plant-based antioxidants called flavanols. In a study published by the International Journal of Medical Sciences, flavanol-rich diets improved blood vessel function and contributed to the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. (Among the Kuna people of Panama, who drink up to 40 cups of cocoa a week, stroke, cancer, diabetes and heart failure occur in less than 10% of the population, substantially less than civilization at large.) Eating cacao was shown to improve blood flow to the brain, benefiting learning and memory.

However, the high flavanol levels in cacao fruit are reduced by industrial chocolate bar processes. Flavanol levels start to drop the moment the cacao pod leaves the tree, but post-farm production techniques, like roasting beans, can reduce flavanols by up to 50%.

At Raaka, we keep our beans unroasted to preserve flavanols and other rich natural qualities of cacao, protecting the super-nutrients without compromising flavor. If you want to enjoy both the health benefits of cacao and its delicious chocolate bar form, we recommend you consider the processes your chocolatemaker uses. Pick a bar with a higher percentage of cacao, like our 75% dark Madagascar.

It’s no wonder that during Raaka’s brainstorming marathons, our 85% dark bars are doled out like coffee. A little bite of this highly concentrated cacao gives just the boost we crave. Our advice? Eat more unroasted dark chocolate. Enjoy its deliciousness and its health benefits at the same time.