Healthy and unexpected ways to use cacao in your diet

Nutrition expert Regina Topelson discusses the benefits of cacao and some ways to sneak it into your diet.

DENVER — When you think of chocolate, you probably think of truffles and desserts. But cacao, the beans that chocolate is made from, isn’t only for sweets.

Chocolate has had a bad rap due to its fat and sugar content, but as it turns out, cacao (and some chocolate), has many health benefits.

Dark chocolate (low in fat and sugar) and cacao have antioxidants that diminish oxidative stress, reduce LDL cholesterol, improve cognitive function, lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and improve athletic performance. 

According to one study, eating one serving of (dark) chocolate per day could decrease risk of stroke by 22 percent. 

Another study found that dark chocolate boosts oxygen availability during exercise in the same way as drinking beetroot juice.

In addition to traditional desserts, chocolate or cacao can be used in savory dishes such as soups, stews, chilis, sauces, dressings, and more.

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