Raw cacao butter is totally unrefined, contains no sugar or milk and is rich in beneficial vitamins, minerals fibres and essential fatty acids that provide a range of benefits for both our physical and emotional health. Not only is raw cacao butter utterly delicious, it’s also exceptionally nourishing for our skin and can be used as a moisturising body lotion or sensual massage oil that leaves a lingering scent of chocolate. To find out more about one of nature’s finest superfoods, to learn how cacao butter is made and to discover how you can get the most out of this exceptionally versatile product, read on!
How cacao butter is made
Cacao butter, sometimes referred to as theobromine oil, is the yellow vegetable oil that is extracted from cacao beans. It is commonly used to give chocolate its velvety smooth texture or as an essential ingredient in popular cosmetic products. Top quality raw cacao butter is made using a ‘cold-pressed’ method, which involves pressing organic raw cacao beans or nibs until the oil inside slowly starts to separate from the protein and fibre. The rich, liquid cacao butter that results is placed into containers and allowed to cool and solidify before packaging. This special technique avoids exposing the cacao butter to high temperatures and thus prevents it from being damaged during the production process, which enables the finished product to retain an optimum quantity of valuable nutrients.
The benefits of cacao butter
Cacao butter is made from raw cacao, which boasts a unique composition of powerful nutrients that have been harnessed in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The myriad health benefits of raw cacao include:
Weight loss – the dense concentration of vitamins, minerals (especially chromium), fibres and essential fatty acids found in cacao are known to produce a prolonged feeling of fullness, which leads to tangible weight loss. Dr Richard Anderson of the Nutrient Requirements and Functions lab at the Human Nutrition Center of the US Department of Agriculture recently uncovered seven studies which demonstrated a clear link between chromium consumption and a significantly improved body composition either through increased lean body weight or decreased body fat.
Increased energy – raw cacao is the richest dietary source of magnesium on the planet and is therefore a superlative provider of energy. According to a study by the US Department of Agriculture, low levels of magnesium in the muscles use up more energy, even during moderate physical activity and can lead to inferior athletic performance.
Heightened libido, energy, alertness and concentration – the high levels of PEA (phenylethylamine) in raw cacao are responsible for a range of welcome side effects that can improve our overall quality and experience of life.
Improved mood – the andamide in raw cacao butter generates feelings of contentment and improves our mood. The presence of serotonin also helps to relieve depression and promote a sound night’s sleep. According to Princeton neuroscientist Barry Jacobs, PhD, depression can occur when there is a suppression of new brain cells – increased serotonin levels help to kick start the production of new brain cells, causing depression to subside.
Reduced cholesterol levels – stearic acid, an important fatty acid found in raw cacao butter has been linked to reduced levels of cholesterol in a number of scientific studies.
Soothed skin – cacao butter contains tocopherols and polyphenols that both suppress free radicals and actively soothe irritation when applied directly to the skin. Its topical application is also believed to prevent unsightly stretch marks.
Enjoying cacao butter
Cacao butter contains no dairy products or gluten, making it perfectly suitable for those on a dairy-free, gluten-free or rawfood diet. It boasts a delicate chocolate aroma and a rich, buttery flavour that adds a decidedly decadent touch to smoothies, nut milks, juices and desserts. It’s also an absolutely indispensable ingredient in home made raw chocolate recipes.
In addition, raw cacao butter can be smeared liberally onto skin or used in combination with other exotic massage oils raw coconut oil, to help keep it feeling remarkably soft and supple.