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Brewed Cacao: A Delicious Coffee Alternative

Brewed cacao is a delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate without the sugar, fat, caffeine, or calories that usually come along with it.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
January 24, 2017
Episode #414

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Nutrition Diva listener Lindsay recently asked me to look in to a new superfood she'd heard about.

"After listening to your podcast for quite some time, I know to be skeptical of any new superfood.  But I'm really curious about brewed cacao. Is it as good as it claims to be in terms of antioxidants and theobromine? How does it compare to a square of dark chocolate?  I'm wondering if this is a drink to embrace or avoid."

I hadn't heard about brewed cacao before Lindsay brought it to my attention but boy am I glad she did! Brewed cacao is a delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate without the sugar, fat, or calories that usually come along with it. It's also a low-caffeine alternative to coffee.

I have nothing against caffeine, per se. Regular caffeine consumption appears to confer several benefits, including protection against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee (which is the main source of caffeine in most people's diets) also has health benefits above and beyond the caffeine, such as reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Coffee is also the #1 source of antioxidants in the American diet!

Nonetheless, coffee doesn't agree with everyone—and some people prefer to avoid caffeine. Even those of us who do enjoy coffee often choose not to consume it after a certain point in the day so that it doesn't mess with our sleep.

And that's where brewed cacao comes in.

What Is Brewed Cacao?

First enjoyed by the ancient Incans, brewed cacao is like coffee made with cacao beans instead of coffee beans. The cacao beans are dried and lightly fermented and then roasted. The roasted beans are then ground and used to brew a hot beverage that has a pronounced chocolate aroma and flavor but no sugar, fat, and virtually no calories.

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? (It is.) But what about these "superfood" claims Lindsay mentions?

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