I know there is much more to Easter than just chocolate, but as a lot will be consumed over the long weekend, it inspired a mention….
The cacao tree is where it all started deep in the jungles of Central and South America, as far back as the Mayans and the Aztecs. The cacao bean is the magic powerhouse of nutrients that comes from it and what everyone goes crazy for. Cacao is an amazing source of antioxidants as well as essential fatty acids, fibre, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and calcium. It also has endorphins and phenylethylamine, the chemical we produce when we fall in love, so it has emotional benefits too.
So no guilt when we crack into those Easter eggs then?? Well it depends on how the cacao is processed. If it is cold pressed then the powder, nibs and butter that are produced will remain raw and thus keep their long list of attributes. Most eggs however will be made from cocoa which is cacao that has been more heavily processed; the heat used during the processing means that a lot of the nutrients are destroyed. Not all is lost though, you’ll still get some benefits – there is no denying the feel good factor when indulging in a little chocolate… Choose a darker, less refined option and you’ll reap more goodness. Chocolate made using organic raw cacao is the ultimate choice though if you’re looking for a superfood.
You don’t have to eat cacao/cocoa to get the benefits; the butter that comes from the beans is an excellent moisturiser so a staple in many beauty products. A shed load of vitamin E and essential fatty acids make it a dream for things like stretch marks. It melts at body temperature so just glides onto the skin and is easily absorbed. Cocoa butter is a very stable vegetable fat, that teamed with all of its antioxidant properties gives it a long shelf life, so the need for preservatives is less. It also has the aroma of chocolate so a delight for the senses and a less calorific way of getting your hit. Use it on its own as a skin saviour or choose one of the many beauty products out there that harness its super powers.