What is Raw Chocolate?

Raw Cacao PodThis is the question we are asked most often – in our St Ives shop, at food festivals and by email from online shoppers.

It might seem an obvious question – raw means uncooked, doesn’t it, so why the confusion? I think in most people’s mind, chocolate is not a cooked product at all and yet all the traditional chocolate bars are certainly cooked – the ingredients, including sugar, dairy, stabilizers, bindings, colouring, additives and heaven knows what else are put into a vat, heated up and then transferred to moulds. In this process, the wonderful properties of cacao (the raw chocolate bean) are completely lost, heated to extinction.

This is where everything about the magic of the cacao bean gets lost. It is generally assumed that chocolate is “naughty”, a treat almost to be ashamed to eat, that it is fattening and has no benefits other than that it tastes delicious. Yet, going back through the mists of time, as far even as the Aztecs, the cacao bean has been prized for its wonderful properties. It is only what we have done to it which has turned a super food into something considered of little or no nutritional worth.

Those Aztecs knew a thing or two, they even used cacao beans as currency and they reckoned that cacao was “the food of the Gods”. Cacao beens grow in pods on small trees. When the pods are opened, the beans are removed and allowed to dry naturally in about 1-2 weeks.

There is often confusion in the spelling of Cacao and Cocoa – the two could not be more different. CACAO is the raw, unprocessed bean, bursting with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. COCOA is the name given to cacao beans when they have been roasted, the high heat needed during the roasting process greatly reduces the health benefits of the cacao bean. Needless to say, Raw Chocolate Pie is made with the ground down raw cacao bean!

Open Cacao Pod

So, let’s look at the benefits of Raw Chocolate, it is hard to know where to start:

  • Raw Chocolate is packed full of vitamins and minerals. It contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 and E and also magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, copper and potassium.

  • Raw Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants which protect cell damage caused by free radicals.

  • Raw Chocolate helps lower both blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

  • Raw Chocolate boosts mood and brain function. Raw Chocolate is a non-addictive stimulant and reduces depression and lethargy. Improves memory.

  • The essential fats in Raw Chocolate support heart health.

  • Raw Chocolate contains protein and fibre, helpful for vegans

  • Raw Chocolate has a wonderful fresh taste.

And taste is really important. Most chocolate bars, do not taste healthy.

However, Raw Chocolate tastes like a super food, deliciously fresh and fruity.

As a customer said to me the other day – “Raw Chocolate is almost medicine”!

Cacao Beans

Perhaps the most important attribute of Raw Chocolate is its effect on mental health. I have touched on this above but it is so important to emphasise because the effect Raw Chocolate has on our mood is a purely physical one. Raw Chocolate helps stimulate the central nervous system, this in turn relaxes muscles and dilates blood vessels which gives the body a huge burst of energy. Raw Chocolate also helps to increase circulation and therefore the availability of serotonin to the brain, improving mood and combating depression.

Aren’t we lucky at The Raw Chocolate Pie Company to be working with such a wonderful natural product?