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Benefits of Organic Cocoa

Organic Cocoa is Safer and Tastes Better Than Chemically Grown Cocoa


The Pesticide Problem

Poisonous organochlorine pesticides have long been widely used to grow cocoa trees, and their danger to public health is well-known.  Indeed, they have been found to constitute health hazards to humans, organisms and the environment. For example, they are known to cause prostate cancer, liver cancer, diabetes, reproductive and developmental defects, and act as endocrine disruption with acute immunotoxicity and neurotoxicity.

Because of the long-term effect of toxic chemicals on the soil, chemically grown cocoa trees attract insects, diseases and other pests, which affect the income of cocoa farmers. Consequently, they tend to spray a lot of pesticide out of concern for the well-being of their family.  This simply worsens their situation.

Not only do they often apply too much, but they also spray pesticide close to harvest when they should not do so as it gets absorbed by the cocoa beans. However, from the farmers’ point of view, potential crop-losses of more than 80% make such decisions appear rational.

The Effect of the Pesticides on Cocoa Beans

While the cocoa beans will have absorbed the poisonous pesticides, the process of fermentation, sun-drying, and then roasting the cocoa beans destroys most of the toxic residues in the beans. Cocoa beans are heated in order to alter the flavour and separate the outer husk and inner bean. This process almost certainly deactivates a huge amount of the agrochemicals used to grow the cocoa beans.

However, unlike in the case of coffee, we do not have any studies analysing the pesticide reduction directly. However, cocoa beans are typically roasted at temperatures between 900C and 1700C, which are only slightly lower than coffee beans’ temperatures of 1800C to 2050C. In the coffee studies, pesticides like chlordane and atrazine were reduced by 90% to 99%. While the reduction depends on how heat-sensitive a pesticide is, the organochloride pesticides used to grow cocoa, such as imidacloprid, fall into a similar class to coffee.

Consequently, there will still be toxic residues after the processing has finished. There is also the issue that the pesticides may simply break down into equally toxic by-products which science has not yet identified.  

The Effect of Pesticides on Cacao

Cacao and cocoa are 2 different products. Both come from the same cocoa tree pod, but cacao is the term used when the resulting powder is raw. The cocoa bean is cold-pressed, not roasted, and as a result there will be more chemical residues in the cocoa butter and cocoa liquor, which are made from the cocoa beans and used to make chocolate. To make cocoa the cocoa beans are roasted, and this destroys most of the toxic chemicals, which have come from the pesticides.

So, when you buy cacao, which is much more nutrient-dense, is higher in essential minerals and enzymes, and contains more antioxidants than cocoa because it has not been heated, you will also consume more chemical residues. However, when you consume cocoa products, such as chocolate, which result from a roasting process, you will consume much fewer chemical residues.

In short, it is clear that it is much safer to consume organic cacao and organic cocoa.

The Health Benefits of 100% Organic Cocoa

The health benefits of cocoa include decreased inflammation, improved heart and brain health, blood sugar and weight control, and healthy teeth and skin. It is nutritious and easy to add to your diet in creative ways. However, make sure to use non-alkalized cocoa powder or dark chocolate containing more than 70% cocoa if you want to maximize the health benefits. By consuming 100% organic cocoa you will increase the health benefits even more.

Here are some of the health benefits:

  1. Cocoa has 40 Times the Antioxidants of Blueberries: Antioxidants absorb free radicals, which come from pollution and toxins in our environment, and which cause cell and tissue damage that can lead to illness.
  2. Cocoa May Have Cancer-Protective Properties
  3. Cocoa is the Highest Plant-Based Source of Iron.
  4. Cocoa is Full of Magnesium for a Healthy Heart & Brain: Cocoa is one of the highest plant-based sources of magnesium, which is the most deficient mineral in the Western world. Magnesium is important for a healthy heart, and helps turn glucose into energy enabling your brain to work with clarity and focus.
  5. Cocoa Has More Calcium Than Cow’s Milk.
  6. Cocoa is a Natural Mood Elevator and Anti-Depressant: Cocoa is a very good source of four scientifically proven “happiness” chemicals, i.e. serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with cosy feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression.
  7. Cocoa is Rich in Polyphenols That Provide Several Health Benefits.
  8. Cocoa’s Polyphenols Improve Blood Flow to Your Brain and Brain Function.
  9. Flavanols in Cocoa May Improve Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes.
  10. Cocoa Can Reduce High Blood Pressure by Improving Nitric Oxide Levels.
  11. Cocoa Can Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke.
  12. Cocoa Can Aid Weight Control in Many Surprising Ways.
  13. Theobromine and Theophylline in Cocoa Can Help People With Asthma.
  14. Antibacterial and Immune-Stimulating Properties May Benefit Your Teeth and Skin
  15. Easy to Include in Your Diet

Here is some more information about the health benefits of cocoa: 

The Taste

Lastly, organic cocoa and chocolate taste better than cocoa grown with chemical fertilisers and toxic pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides because the chemicals cause so much damage to the microbial life of the soil. Delicious cocoa beans come from planting organic cocoa trees in soil, which is rich in compost and natural fertilizers.

Just like fertile, chemical-free soil improves the taste of fruit and vegetables significantly, chemical-free soil, which is rich in compost and organic fertiliser, produces cocoa and chocolate with a stronger, more chocolatey taste. People generally notice a distinct quality difference in the taste in organic cocoa compared to chemically grown cocoa.

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