Want a real superfood, not hype? Try organic cocoa
Acai is getting a lot of attention as a hot new ‘superfood‘ thanks to endorsements from celebrity dermatologist Dr. Perricone, the multi-level marketing operation behind the over-hyped MonaVie, and other interests.
‘Superfood’ is a term a lot of people hadn’t ever even heard until recently. But when it started being used to promote acai berries, something clicked in the public’s mind. Maybe it’s the welcome and intuitive change in thinking that whole foods can be just as good for us as supplement capsules and tablets.
But ‘superfood’ isn’t a technical or specific term, anyone can call anything a superfood. To be a legitimate superfood, we think a product or substance has to meet 3 criteria:
- It has be minimally processed and close to being in a whole-food state.
- It must provide a range of documented benefits and nutrients, not just one or two, and not solely or principally anecdotal benefits.
- It has to actually be something you can comfortably and easily consume as a standalone food or with other foods.
It’s easy to meet 2 out of the 3, but there aren’t many superfoods that really connect on all 3 counts.
Cocoa powder, in particular organic unsweetened cocoa powder is a true superfood in every sense of the word. Some people may be surprised to hear than, others may have seen the stories in recent years that publicize health benefits from chocolate; full of heart healthy polyphenols and mood boosting alkaloids. It’s actually the cocoa powder itself (ground up cacao pods) that confers chocolate’s benefits, not the fats or the sugar used to turn cocoa powder into chocolate.
- Cocoa is full of heart healthy antioxidants.
- Cocoa powder provides a whopping 6.5 grams of fiber per serving, almost as much as a bowl of raisin bran.
- Cocoa powder provides 5 grams of protein per serving, almost as much as an egg.
- Cocoa is full of mood-boosting compounds.
- Cocoa is naturally low in sodium and high in valuable potassium.
But by using the cocoa powder with healthy fats and non-sugar sweeteners, you’ll have all the health benefits of chocolate without any of the drawbacks. For example, you can bake with cocoa powder and substitute organic coconut oil for butter or shortening, and use xylitol or erythritol instead of sugar or honey. Since, unlike you, commercial chocolate makers have to skimp on the cocoa content (the most expensive ingredient), you’ll also probably notice the very satisfying and intensely chocolate flavor when you bake or cook with a good organic cocoa powder:
- Mix with chocolate protein powder to make an intensely chocolate protein shake.
- Bake it into healthy brownie, cake, and cookie mixes using healthy fats and sweeteners.
- Stir into coffee for a mood boosting cafe mocha.
- Make the most healthy and satisfying hot chocolate you’ve ever had by sweetening with xylitol or erythritol and stirring into hot, diluted milk.