Not to be confused with sugary, processed chocolate bars, raw cacao beans and cacao products are made from raw, nonroasted cacao beans. The beans are typically fermented inside the pod itself to rid the beans of their bitter and astringent flavors, then dried to remove excess moisture before storing, shipping, etc.
Raw cacao contains high levels of magnesium and other essential minerals including calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese that support proper neurological function. Cacao has natural mood-boosting compounds like anandamide and theobromine, which help with mood imbalances like depression. This superfood also contains high levels of various B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B9) that are important for proper neurotransmitter creation.
Most notably, raw cacao contains high levels of polyphenols called flavonoids, that are proven to "protect neurons from damage induced by neurotoxins, reduce neuroinflammation, and promote memory, learning, and cognitive function."
I love adding cacao powder and nibs to smoothies, oatmeal, gluten-free baked goods, and dairy-free yogurt.