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Raw Cacao and Raw Chocolate: Is it Good For You?

I often get asked what I think of the whole “raw cacao” craze. If you don’t know about this, there are some people who currently claim that raw chocolate is the ultimate food of mankind and that we should eat as much as possible to benefit from the high levels of anti-oxidants, magnesium and other trace minerals.

Truth is, their claims are completely flawed and wrong.

But, it doesn’t mean that you should stop eating chocolate altogether.

Let’s take a honest look at the issue, by looking at some claims made about cacao:

“Cornell University food scientists found that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times what is found in green tea.”

MY COMMENTS: Yes, cacao contains lots of antioxidants. But the question is not “what is the highest source of anti-oxidants” but “what is the “healthiest source of antioxidants”.

Cacao is rich in fat and contains some caffeine and theobromine, which is a stimulant alike caffeine. Therefore, one should not eat too much of it. But blueberries and other berries are free of these concerns and also contain lots of anti-oxidants. In my opinion, they are a much *healthier* source of anti-oxidants.

“As we have noted, cacao is one of nature’s richest sources of magnesium, which is a heart as well as brain mineral.”

Same here. Cacao may be rich in magnesium, but that’s not a reason good enough to make it a main part of your diet, when it’s rich in fat! Other foods contain lots of magnesium, including green vegetables.

“Cacao, because it is unadulterated, has an even stronger love energy. In ancient Aztec wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom would exchange 5 cacao beans with each other.”

What can I say here except that I’m surprised people buy this kind of non-sense. Lots of very unhealthy foods have been praised throughout the world for their “magical” qualities that it’s not surprising to find cacao among them.

The bottom line about raw cacao and raw chocolate is that it’s not the healthiest source of anti-oxidants or nutrients, and it’s no “magical” food.

I’m all for enjoying food and life and having some cacao as part of your diet occasionally and enjoying some health benefits that way is perfectly fine. But to make raw cacao an important part of your diet, as is recommended by some people, is completely ridiculous and unhealthy.

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.


Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.