100% Cacao Chocolate
What is 100% Cacao Chocolate?
100% cacao chocolate is chocolate made entirely out of cacao beans and nothing else. No sugar. No milk. It tastes bitter, earthy, and a bit nutty, but it is very nutritious.
While not nearly as popular as sweetened chocolate, 100% cacao chocolate has been a popular food for centuries. The Aztecs would consume it in a drink, not unlike the way we drink black coffee today.
You can eat 100% cacao chocolate raw or mixed into food, like baked goods. You can also mix it with sugar and milk to create milk chocolate.
Nutrition at a Glance
Pure, unsweetened chocolate is high in calories but contains zero sugar. 100g contains:
- 500 calories
- 14.3g protein
- 50g fat
- 28.6g carbs
- 21.4g fiber
- iron and potassium
- 32.1g fatty acids
This ingredient is a source of carbs, so be careful about eating a lot of it. 100% cacao tends to be rather bitter, so eating a full 100g is probably pretty difficult, anyway.
Be aware that chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two stimulants. Unsweetened chocolate contains higher concentrations of them.
Cacao contains several vitamins and mineral which provide strong health benefits. These include:
- Increasing antioxidants
- Improving blood vessel health
- Protecting skin
- Improving brain function
Antioxidants are a category of compounds that prevent your body from oxidizing. Oxidation, by the way, is what turned the Statue of Liberty all green and scaly. While oxidation would never do that much to you, you do not want that kind of reaction at all!
Chocolate is rich in several antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins. It is not clear how well they work in the body, but in controlled experiments, they do reduce oxidation.
Improving blood vessel health
Some studies suggest that pure cocoa improves blood flow while lowering blood pressure. The flavonoids inside chocolate also stimulate your arteries to produce nitric oxide, a molecule that reduces blood pressure.
Your skin’s sensitiveness to UVB rays is measured by the minimal erythemal dose (MED). This quantity indicates how much sunlight it takes to cause redness within 24 hours.
Consuming pure chocolate can increase MED, making you more resistant to sunlight. But you should probably still use sunblock if you are going to the beach.
Improving brain function
By increasing overall blood flow, cocoa flavonoids also increase blood flow to the brain. This improves cognition, memory, attention, and verbal learning. It may also help people who are in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Cacao is overall a very nutritions ingredient. However, it is high in calories and contains stimulants. These are mostly problems only if you eat too much.
500 calories per 100g is not as much as butter, but it is a lot. 400g of cacao would satisfy your daily caloric needs for most people, but probably wouldn’t leave you feeling too great.
Cacao contains trace amounts of caffeine. If you are a regular tea or coffee drinker, this probably makes little difference. But if you are not, a sudden increase in caffeine can cause anxiety, an elevated heartbeat, and trouble sleeping.
In most cases, however, you are not likely to eat even 100g of raw cacao in one sitting. It is usually mixed in with other ingredients in smaller amounts. In such cases, adverse effects are rare.
Compared with regular chocolate
It’s funny thinking of 100% cacao chocolate as a health food, when you normally think of chocolate as… chocolate. A typical chocolate bar is junk food, but not because of the chocolate in it. It’s junk food because of all the sugar.
100% cacao chocolate contains exactly zero sugar, so it won’t rot your teeth or cause diabetes. Instead, it will give you important vitamins and minerals that help your skin, blood vessels, and brain.
The downside, of course, is that pure chocolate tastes bitter. Some people like this, however, and the taste may grow on you over time. In cooking, you may be able to use pure chocolate primarily as a way to improve texture, not flavor.
How we use 100% cacao chocolate
We use pure cacao in our Almond Butter Chocolate Chip bar. That’s how we can get that delicious chocolate chip flavor and texture without the added sugar. But we more than make up for the bitterness by adding keto-friendly sweeteners, like erythritol and stevia.