Raw chocolate and cocoa – a healthier alternative to regular chocolate?

Raw chocolate, compared to standard chocolate, is made from raw, that is, unroasted cocoa beans. You can get them in health food stores either whole, crushed, or in powdered form. Manufacturers emphasize that they are suitable not only for making chocolate but also as a snack on its own or an addition to morning oatmeal, cottage cheese, or granola.

Why is it worth reaching for products made from unprocessed cocoa beans?

Their proponents claim that it is mainly because of their extraordinary nutritional values, which are much higher than those offered by classic roasted cocoa chocolates. Raw beans and cocoa and chocolate made from them are supposed to be an exceptionally rich source of antioxidants, which help protect the body against free radicals, as well as of such micro-and macroelements as magnesium, iron, chromium, zinc, and potassium. Due to its rich composition, raw cacao is sometimes called a “superfood”.

Not quite super

Not everyone, however, is enamored of both raw cocoa itself and the chocolate made from it. Many people claim that there is nothing special about these products which are, after all, quite expensive.

First of all, it is often stressed that neither unroasted cocoa beans nor chocolate made from them are the richest sources of antioxidants. They can be found in larger quantities in ground cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, and dried basil. Opponents of raw cacao also claim that there is no data on how much antioxidants we need and what dosage of them is actually beneficial to our health.

Raw cocoa is also not the richest known source of magnesium, an element needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system, among other things. It’s better (and cheaper) to look for it in pumpkin seeds, for example, which are also full of potassium, another ally of the nervous system, phosphorus, which takes care of the condition of bones and teeth, as well as quite a lot of protein and B vitamins.

If not raw chocolate, then what?

What if pumpkin seeds don’t suit you, but you don’t want to eat raw chocolate or you can’t buy it? Go ahead and reach for regular, good-quality dark chocolate. It is best if it has as much cocoa as possible (then it will have less additives such as sugar) and as short a list of ingredients as possible. But be careful. It is worth reading the ingredients because it often happens that in order to speed up the production process and reduce its costs, manufacturers use emulsifiers such as soy lecithin and E476 (polyglycerol polyricinoleate).

While lecithin should rather not harm us, the other emulsifier should not be intaken in excess. In animal tests, it was found that excessive amounts of it lead to enlargement of the liver and kidneys. Apart from chocolate, we can find it in other sweets with the addition of cocoa, powdered cakes, as well as ready-made instant salad dressings.