The concept of superfoods has gained much traction these days. Superfoods are foods that contain considerably higher amounts of antioxidants, minerals, nutrients, vitamins and other health-boosting, disease-fighting goodies. One of these superfoods is organic cacao. The biological name for cacao tree is “theobroma cacao”, which can be roughly translated as “food of the gods.” This holds extremely true, as cacao is considered a superfood because it is packed with magnesium favanoids, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.
What is Cacao?
Cacao is the source of original, natural chocolate. It is found in the seeds of the fruit of the cacao trees, but what we the chocolate that we eat in everyday life contains no cacao. Normal cocoa powder and the chocolate that we eat are chemically processed, which destroys most of the antioxidants and flavanols in them. This means that we miss out on the healthy, full of nutrients phytochemicals that are found in cacao and are essential for our bodies. It contains phytonutrients, including high amounts of sulphur, magnesium and phenlethylamine. All these minerals and nutrients aid in areas like increasing focus and alertness; cacao also has more antioxidants than green tea, wine and blueberries.
Read More: 11 Health Benefits for Cacao in Kids
13 Surprising Benefits of Adding Cacao To Your Child’s Diet
Improvement in Mood
Cacao triggers the production of serotonin, which is the brain chemical that makes you feel good. Cacao is proven to boost calming hormones, thus making your child feel relaxed and keeps mood swings away, thus providing both you and your child some much needed quiet.
Reduces Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases
Flavanols are anti-inflammatory and heart-productive antioxidants and are found in abundance in cacao. Studies have proven that they can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, even helping in improving blood circulation. Cacao can also help reduce cholesterol and hardening of arteries, so you can be rest assured that by including this superfood in your child’s diet, you are protecting their heart against the risk of fatal diseases.
Maintains Dental Hygiene
We all know how impossible it is to stop children from stuffing their mouths with chocolate and other sugary foods, which leads to the risk of developing cavities and tooth decay. Recent studies have discovered that cacao powder was more beneficial than even fluoride in the prevention of cavities. Cacao can help make the enamel of the teeth stronger.
A Storehouse of Antioxidants
We’ve all heard of antioxidants. They’re supposed to be extremely good for our immune system and we can find them in green tea and blueberries. It’s unlikely that your child will want to sit down with a cup of green tea, though. Cacao has almost 40 times the amount of antioxidants that blueberries have, thus doing wonders for your child’s immune system and protecting them from the germs hanging around in the environment.
Abundance of Iron
Raw cacao has 7.3 milligrams of iron per 100 grams. Thus consuming just a little bit of raw cacao can give your child more than the daily value for iron. Raw cacao is the highest plant based source of iron in the world! This is how to give your kids the iron their young bodies need when they refuse to have green, leafy vegetables.
Provides Magnesium to Diet
Magnesium is one mineral that lacks from the diets of most individuals, especially children who are growing and need the required daily amount of magnesium to help in the development of a healthy brain and nervous system. Magnesium also gives us healthy bones and teeth, muscles and supports a healthy blood pressure. Cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium, making it rich in benefits for your child.
Obesity is a rising concern all over the world, and child obesity has reached peaks that it had never before. All of this is due to the fact that children are constantly consuming foods that are loaded with sugar. Cacao is very low in sugar, thus helping the child to maintain a healthy body weight and not fall into the pit of obesity which can cause innumerable problems.
Rich in Sulphur
Cacao can help take care of your liver and pancreas, better the texture and quality of your hair and make your nails stronger. How? It contains significant amounts of sulphur. Sulphur contributes to building and rebuilding collagen and keratin, which is important for hair, skin and nails while also playing an important role in driving nutrients into and out of cells, blood sugar regulation, tissue repair and our immune system.
Read More: 21 Foods with Prebiotics Packed in Them
Protects Against Sunburns
Kids just love to stay out in the sun without any care for sunscreen! Cacao plays a role even in preventing sunburns. A recent study by London scientists found that participants who ate 20 grams of cacao for 12 weeks were able to stay in the sun for twice as long as those who didn’t without getting sunburned.
Read More: Home Remedies for Treating Sunburns in Teens
Safeguards Against UV Rays
Cacao powder has also been proved to protect against the harmful UV rays of the sun which children are more exposed to because of the time they spend outside, playing under the sky. These UV rays can cause fatal illnesses like skin cancer. Dietary flavanols from cacao contribute to sunlight protection and improve the skin’s surface and hydration.
Calcium-rich Alternative to Milk
We all know how important it is for children to get their daily dose of calcium. The most popular source of calcium is milk, but most kids are either lactose intolerant or just dislike the taste of milk and refuse to drink it. Cacao comes to the rescue again! It contains more calcium than cow’s milk at 160mg per 100g vs only 125mg per 100ml of milk.
Treatment For Coughing Fits
Coughing fits are a normal occurance in your household if you live with children. But frequently drinking cough syrup may not be the best idea, and might harm your child’s immune system. Switch to cacao! A UK student performed by the British Lung Foundation discovered that the the obromine found in cacao beans was quite effective at treating persistent coughs.
Rejuvenates and Energizes
It is common for kids to have difficulty getting up in the morning for school; they can be tired, fatigued and this can create a bad effect on the rest of their day. Raw cacao contains naturally occurring caffeine, and adding a teaspoon or so of it to a smoothie gives your children a ton of nutrition in the morning as well as energizes them.
Ideas For Serving Cacao to Children
Cacao nibs can be consumed by mixing them with something that has a natural sweetness, so as to balance the bitter flavour of the cacao. For example, the cacao nibs can be mixed with pieces of fruit, a bowl of yoghurt, blended into smoothies, sprinkled over your overnight oats. If you’re in the mood for a healthy desert, you can make ice cream with frozen bananas, cacao powder and cacao nibs. They can be used as sprinkles on cupcakes or ice-cream as well.
Cacao nibs are not just limited to sweet recipes, though. They have a savoury side as well. Cocoa nibs are also a great choice for a crust on something savoury, like a chicken breast or even sprinkled onto a salad.