Move over Nesquik, there’s a healthier version in town and it has more antioxidants then a glass of red wine. Cacao, which is the raw, unrefined version of cocoa, is actually in the legume family and has 43.6 mg of flavanoids (antioxidants) in 1 gram. It helps prevent cancer, alleviates stress, helps ward off heart disease, and lowers HDL (bad cholesterol). The bean does, however, contain caffeine, so if you are sensitive to it this might not be such a great idea before bed. It also contains oxalates, so those with kidney problems should not consume cacao as it can cause kidney stones. (Oxalates are also found in raw spinach, another ingredient in this smoothie, although baby spinach has much less and is much safer to eat raw)
Cacao is a natural mood booster, “According to Elson Hass in his book ‘Staying Healthy With Nutrition,’ cocoa may provide antidepressant benefits. He explains that cocoa contains the substance phenethylamine, which is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that acts as a mood elevator and natural antidepressant. The University of Michigan Health System (UMIM) states that cocoa may also have the ability to boost endorphins which act as natural ‘happy’ opiates and are responsible for the highs that are often felt after exercising, laughing, having sex or winning the lottery. Finally, UMIM says that cocoa may boost serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that antidepressants target in order to boost overall happiness levels.” (Livestrong.com http://www.livestrong.com/article/331715-cocoa-powder-health-benefits/)
The Smile Maker Smoothie:
- 1/2 cups organic oat milk
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1 1/2 tbls raw organic cacao powder
- 1/2 cup raw baby spinach
- 10 brazil nuts
- 1/2 cup cashews
- dash stevia (optional)
combine all in a high speed blender for 1 minute.
Chocolate is one of those things that we crave, and maybe our bodies are telling us something. Of course, like all new health crazes, the research is ongoing. Some say the caffeine contained in raw cacao does not effect our bodies the same way as coffee or tea, and some say that this is a treat which should be saved for special occasions. In any case, the mood boosting potential of this beloved bean is enough for me to add it to my list of smoothie ingredients. In a world where Prozac is downed like candy, its nice to know that there are healthier alternatives with minimal side effects.
- Mint it! Smoothie Thursday . . . (golivewellness.wordpress.com)