One question I get a lot is - what is a superfood? Why should I bother eating them? Surely they're just hyped up versions of regular food. Right...?
Well, not quite... Superfoods are just that - foods that contain significantly higher quantities of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other health-boosting, anti-aging, disease-fighting goodies. Some are every day whole foods that you'll likely have tried before (think broccoli, blueberries; even the humble spud). Others are more exotic, grown in the rainforests of Peru and picked by Amazonian warriors (okay, maybe not quite).
To help you out in your quest to conquer, or at least delve into, the amazing world of superfoods, every few weeks i'll be spilling the (cacao) beans on a superfood of your choice. You'll get the low down on what it is, why you should be eating it, and some quick and easy ways to do so (even for the non-chefs amongst).
FIRST UP: CACAO - THE AMAZONIAN ANTIOXIDANT KING
5 BENEFITS OF RAW ORGANIC CACAO
1. 40 Times the Antioxidants of Blueberries
Raw Organic Cacao has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries. Yes 40 times! It has an amazing ORAC score of 98,000 per 100g, vs blueberries at a mere 2,400. ORAC scores measure the ability of antioxidants to absorb free radicals (that come from pollution and toxins in our environment), which cause cell and tissue damage and can lead to diseases such as cancer.
2. Highest Plant-Based Source of Iron
On a plant-based/vegan diet and looking for iron? The search is over!
Cacao is the highest plant-based source of iron known to man, at a whopping 7.3mg per 100g. This compares to beef and lamb at 2.5mg, and spinach at 3.6mg. Note the iron in cacao is non-heme (as is all plant-based iron), so to get the maximum benefits you'll want to combine it with some vitamin C. Think oranges, kiwifruit, superfoods like gubinge or camu camu (which have 40x more vitamin C than oranges), or try out my Choc Orange Smoothie recipe for a Jaffa-tasting throwback.
3. Full of Magnesium for a Healthy Heart & Brain
Raw Organic Cacao is also one of the highest plant-based sources of magnesium, the most deficient mineral in the Western world. Magnesium is important for a healthy heart, and helps turn glucose into energy enabling your brain to work with laser-sharp clarity and focus. The reason why you might turn to a bar of chocolate during an all-nighter at your desk!
4. More Calcium Than Cow's Milk
Raw Organic Cacao has more calcium than cow's milk would you believe, at 160mg per 100g vs only 125mg per 100ml of milk. Time to switch out the trim latte for a couple of squares of dairy free raw chocolate.
5. A Natural Mood Elevator and Anti-Depressant
Cacao is a great source of four scientifically proven bliss chemicals - serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with cosy feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression. A natural, healthy, delicious (and legal) way to get your happy buzz on.