Health Benefits of Flaxseed and Cacao
There has been an overwhelming amount of information published on the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in flaxseed – everything from cancer prevention to improved cardiovascular health and improved vision. On the other hand, the health benefits of “Raw” chocolate (that which is minimally-processed and kept at low temperatures), are less well publicized, but no less important. Cacao (the plant from which chocolate is made) is loaded with antioxidants, and cacao nibs – the roasted and cracked “beans” from the cacao pod – contain more than ten times the antioxidant content of blueberries . Cocoa nibs (A.K.A. cacao nibs) are roasted as an essential step in developing the flavor of chocolate, but since all the downstream steps to make chocolate are skipped, nibs can be considered a minimally-processed food. Put these two antioxidant superpowers together and you’ve got a satisfying and healthy treat.
The flaxseeds also act as a kind of binder and thickener so that you can create a thick shake that will keep all those beautiful cocoa nibs suspended.
Now, flaxseeds are shelf stable in whole form, but due to their oil content, will eventually go rancid after they are ground open. So I recommend that you only grind as much as you need for a week or so and then keep what you don’t use in a tightly-closed container in the refrigerator. The cacao nibs should be finely ground just before use in order to release the natural fruity flavor and aroma of cacao.
The Mega Omega-3 “Raw” Chocolate Shake
What you’ll need:
- 2 Tablespoons organic flaxseed (unroasted). Roasted seeds can be used instead to give a more nutty taste, but I prefer the lighter, more natural flavor of the unroasted seeds.
- 3 Tablespoons finely ground cacao nibs.
- 1 cup organic low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1 ½ cups frozen organic blueberries (if you use fresh blueberries, then add an extra ½ cup of ice).
- 1 cup organic soy milk (you may substitute regular low fat milk or almond milk)
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- A blender
Grind the flaxseed in a coffee mill for about 10 seconds. Press your finger into the seeds after grinding – you should not feel any hard shells. Grind the cacao nibs in a coffee grinder for 15 – 20 seconds. Some people claim success grinding nibs in the blender before any other wet ingredients are added, but my opinion is that this is not good for your blender. Add everything to the blender and blend until the blueberries are no longer whole.
Fill tall glasses and float some nibs (virgin, not finely ground) and a few blueberries on top. Enjoy and ask yourself: “do I feel healthy yet?”
• Use 8 pitted dates instead of the blueberries. They complement the chocolate well with an understated sweetness.
• Use frozen pitted dark cherries instead of blueberries. They taste just as yummy (but can be difficult to find organic).
• Vegan version: leave out the yogurt and replace it with ½ cup coconut milk. For this version, use blueberries; not dates.
 The reported antioxidant capacity of foods varies by the method used for chemical analysis, so you may see different results reported here and there. What’s clear is the antioxidant content of cacao nibs is among the highest of any food on an equivalent weight basis. I will try to research the specifics for a future post, but I think you guys are more interested in other things for now.
 Kai likes everything.
 I paid for all the materials used to make this recipe.