The word on the street is that chocolate is actually healthy! (Hooray!) Peel the tape off the tin of Quality Streets everyone, Christmas has come early! … But hang on chaps, not so fast, it is cacao they are talking about, not cocoa, the main ingredient in commercial chocolate *sighs*.

Although cacao powder and cocoa powder is basically the same product – both derived from dried and pressed cacao beans and just a spelling mistake apart – the difference is in the processing. Cacao refers to powder made from beans that have been cold pressed whereas to cocoa powder is from beans that have been roasted.

Raw cacao contains very high levels of antioxidants (like 20 times more than blueberries) – which is good for preventing heart disease, boosting immunity and generating energy. It is also a fantastic source of calcium, magnesium, iron, essential fatty acids and zinc. The Inca’s – one of the first civilisations to harvest the bean – considered cocoa “food of the Gods”, due to its incredible health benefits and a molecule called anandamide, which leaves you feeling a little bit euphoric!

But when cacao beans are roasted (to make cocoa), the living enzymes are killed, thus greatly reducing the antioxidant level. An additional process called Dutching involves washing the beans in potassium carbonate solution in order to lessen the acidity and this further reduces the nutritional benefits.

The chocolate in your advent calendar, like most commercial chocolate, is made using cocoa not cacao, and probably also contains high levels of sugar and milk powder. We all know about the evils of refined sugar and studies have shown dairy to block the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate.

With all this in mind Fuel at Frame has launched a new hot chocolate: “The Cuddler” – a blend of raw cacao, almond milk, almond butter, maca and honey. Super healthy and enough to satisfy even the most dedicated chocoholic this winter.