(Natural News) Cacao butter, also known as cocoa butter, is the edible vegetable fat that is pressed and extracted from cacao beans. This delicious superfood gives all chocolate-lovers a good reason to rejoice since it provides a healthy way to satisfy chocolate cravings. When added as an extra ingredient, cacao butter can give food a subtle but creamy flavor similar to white chocolate. This healthy butter contains no added sugars or dairy milk, unlike most chocolate products.
While it is more commonly used in moisturizers, lotions and skincare products, food-grade cacao butter is truly an underrated culinary ingredient. It’s the reason why chocolate has that luscious, melt-in-your-mouth, silky quality. Furthermore, cacao butter is considered one of the healthiest fats to consume for people following low-carb diets. Pure cacao butter has a whitish color and a soft texture. It stays solid at room temperature and melts into a smooth oil when heated. Cacao butter is also called theobroma oil and can be easily added to a variety of dishes to boost their healthy fat content.
What makes cacao butter so healthy?
With its high levels of fatty acids and natural plant compounds, cacao butter offers a surprising number of health benefits. Moderate consumption of cacao butter is linked to a reduced risk of stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A single tablespoon of this heart-healthy superfood provides 14 grams (g) of total fat, not to mention a decent amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You can also get 27.1 milligrams (mg) of phytosterols from the same amount of cacao butter. Phytosterols are plant compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties and are known to decrease the levels of harmful LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Cacao butter is also packed with potent antioxidant compounds like flavonoids, and fatty acids like oleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid that can enhance antioxidant activity. Antioxidants can help protect your body from oxidative stress, boost your immune system and support your cardiovascular health. (Related: Sensual sweet seduction: Why chocolate is good for your heart, brain, and mood.)
How can you add cacao butter to your diet?
Melted cacao butter is a great addition to sweet and savory dishes. Add a little bit of cacao butter, almond milk and vanilla extract to your morning coffee to turn it into a white chocolate latte. You can also blend melted cacao butter with your choice of natural sweetener and either coconut milk powder to make sugar-free white chocolate, or cacao powder to make dark chocolate. Once fully blended, spread a thin layer of the mixture on parchment paper and allow it to cool. For more savory recipes, cacao butter is best paired with peppercorns, basil, green peas and roasted cauliflower. You can also use it to cook flaky fish, such as trout, cod and halibut. Some other recipes you can try with cacao butter include vegan brownie bars, smoothies, sweet sauces, breads, cakes, frostings, truffles and other desserts. You can also use cacao butter as a healthy fat substitute for dairy butter, margarine and other types of oils.
Whether you’re a chocolate-lover or not, it wouldn’t hurt to give your favorite snacks and beverages a hint of delicious cacao goodness. You’d be surprised by just how far a tiny dollop of cacao butter can go.