30 Nov 2015 Blackmores The benefits of cacao 7919 views 1 min to read It looks like chocolate, tastes like chocolate, and it’s got ‘feel-good’ properties to boot. Cacao really is “the food of the gods”. Everyday health 12 ratings Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Pinterest 0 comments What is cacao? Derived from the beans of the cacao plant, cacao (pronounced “ca-kow”) is available as a powder, nib or butter. Cacao is the raw form of cocoa (which is roasted and processed), and, of course, chocolate’s essential ingredient. Raw cacao has a slightly bitter flavour and triggers our most sensitive tastebuds – the bitter taste receptors. This may sound off-putting, but it can work in your favour, as you're likely to only snack on one or two pieces of raw ‘chocolate’ (rather than eat an entire bar of mass-produced milk chocolate). Where is cacao grown? Money might not grow on trees, but chocolate – cacao’s beloved by-product – does. Cacao’s Theobroma tree is native to Central and South America but grown commercially throughout the world’s tropics. Today, Africa produces about 70 per cent of the world's cacao. It’s now thought that humans have been enjoying cacao since as far back as 600BC, when the Mayans are thought to have prepared the first hot chocolate drinks from mashed cacao seeds. What are the benefits of cacao? There is a reason that cacao is considered the “food of the gods”. It contains antioxidants which come from the plant polyphenols- similar to those found in green tea - which are active in raw cacao powder and have sparked an interest for their potential benefits for wellbeing. Who is it for? Cacao powder should be considered a kitchen-cupboard staple to support your healthy lifestyle. Add it to our smoothies, sprinkle on top of natural yoghurt and if you usually enjoy hot chocolate before bed-time to help you relax and unwind, then replace your usual powder with cacao, for a more guilt-free treat for your wellbeing.