Raw cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which means it's much less processed and significantly higher in antioxidants than plain old cocoa powder or store-bought chocolate bars. Studies have shown that it may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce your blood pressure, but there's another reason to enjoy it ASAP: it can improve your mood big time.
In one study, participants were given a dark-chocolate drink to consume for 30 days, which contained 500 milligrams, 250 milligrams, or 0 milligrams of polyphenols (the chemicals in plants that have antioxidant properties). The findings? The participants who received the highest dose of cocoa experienced a significantly higher rate of calmness and happiness than those who drank the placebo. If you could use a little extra happy in your day, raw cacao is an ingredient to try.
Culinary director of Sonima Wellness Center Joy Houston is a huge fan of raw cacao powder in her smoothies, since it gives her blends a flavor that's reminiscent of a classic chocolate malt without all the processed junk. Try singer Ellie Goulding's go-to coconut-water smoothie that's sweet, hydrating, and tosses cacao nibs into the mix.