This winter I have really enjoyed the flavor and texture of a cup or two of creamy hot cacao every morning. Don’t worry—this version of the drink is packed with substances that give the body a boost, not deplete it with unhealthy sugars. This version of the popular drink is yummy and satisfying– and I REALLY enjoy how this hearty version, using raw organic cacao powder, MCT oil and organic ghee, helps my brain and body start the day with energy and clarity.
Please note that I am referring to raw CACAO and not COCOA, since there is a big difference between the two. Cacao is a raw food that is loaded with anti-oxidants and healing nutrients, while cocoa is a processed version of cacao. Cocoa is heated at very high temperatures and often has additives such as anti-caking agents and sugars.
Cacao has the highest ORAC score (anti-oxidant power) of all the super foods – even higher that goji berries and blueberries!
4 Reasons Raw Cacao Powder is a Super-Healer
Before I share with you my very simple recipe on how to make Healthy Morning Hot Cacao (see below), I want to first share just a few reasons why cacao is one of the top super foods out there:
- Cacao is cancer-preventative. Cacao is a super-food largely because of its high antioxidant content. In particular, cacao contains polyphenols such as procynanidins and epicatechins, also found in red wine and berries. Cacao is also a source of healthy monounsaturated fats (similar to olive oil) that are needed for immune, digestive and metabolic function. Studies have shown that consuming monounsaturated fats can help prevent Breast Cancer.
- Cacao helps your heart. The body needs consistent sources of healthy fats like those found raw cacao powder in order to maintain cardiovascular health. In addition, the flavanols in cacaohas been shown to decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, increase blood flow in the arteries and heart and lower high blood pressure.
- Cacao gives your brain and mood a boost. Cacao powder has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain. It also contains the fatty acid neurotransmitter anandamide, (i.e. the “bliss molecule”), which can elevate mood. Interestingly, like cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, anandamide can also enhance the endocannabinoid system, a subtle balancer and booster for every other system in the body.
In addition, the same flavanols found in cacao that prevent cancer can also be neuroprotective.
A 2012 study found that daily cocoa consumption improved the cognitive abilities of adults suffering from “mild cognitive impairment.”
- Consuming cacao balances out blood glucose levels. The antioxidant content in cacao can help balance insulin levels. Studies have shown that pre-diabetic hypoglycemia and diabetes are both significant risk factors for cancer.
The great news is that now you don’t have to feel guilty about sipping your little bit of chocolate delight. Getting your “chocolate fix” in a healthy way, you are also helping your body on several fronts. In addition, the MCT oil derived from coconut oil and the grassfed ghee added to the Healthy Morning Hot Cacao recipe mentioned below contains gut-healthy butyric acid as well as vitamins K, A, D, and E. Adding healthy sources of fat such as MCT oil, ghee and cacao to your diet first thing in the morning as part of a low-carb lifestyle is a great way to kick start mental clarity and fat-burning for the day ahead.
One word of caution as you add cacao powder to your healthy breast toolbox: if you are sensitive to caffeine, be sure to start out slow. One cup of cacao is equivalent to 1/20 of a cup of coffee in terms of caffeine. It does not seem like much, but if you are sensitive to caffeine, make a note of this. Cut the levels of cacao powder recommended in the recipe in half to start, limit yourself to one cup a day and be mindful not to drink your cacao right before bed.
Recipe for “Healthy Morning Hot Cacao”
An Italian study found that individuals who consumed between 520 mg and 993 mg (a minimum of 1/10 to 1/5 teaspoons) of cocoa powder per day experienced improved cognitive function within two months. Here is a simple recipe to make your own Healthy Morning Hot Cacao:
1 -2 teaspoons organic cacao powder
1 teaspoon grassfed Ghee
1 teaspoon MCT oil
8 – 10 ounces of hot water or Coconut milk or Almond milk (unsweetened and organic)
Powdered or liquid stevia to taste.
Warm up the water (almond milk, etc) to boiling. Just off the boil, pour the water into a blender or vita-mix. Add cacao powder, , MCT oil, ghee and stevia. Blend on high for 15 seconds. Pour into a mug and enjoy.
Optional: For Mexican Hot Cacaoa, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper to the blender before mixing. Top with a sprinkling of cinnamon powder.