Cacao Benefits & Information
Sub tropical rainforest
Raw cacao is a superfood that has been used for centurys. Cacao originates in South America and has always been viewed as a food of the Gods. Cacao's chemical composition makes it a food capable of inducing blissful states, making people feel good whilst also benefiting one's overall health.
The feel good factor, of Cacao, often experienced when eating chocolate is even more prevalent when eating raw cacao as the chemical compounds responsible are not inhibited by dairy or sugar. Whereas commercially made chocolate is addictive and creates instable glucose levels in the blood, raw cacao brings all the benefits of chocolate without the side effects.
Cacao is high in Magnesium which is known to increase the overall vigour of the heart muscle and decreases blood coagulation which lowers blood pressure and helps the heart pump more effectively, reducing the likelihood of blood clots and strokes.
Magnesium also balances brain chemistry and increases brainpower; Cacao, it is said, helps to create strong bowel movements, reduces menstrual cramping, relaxes muscles, increases flexibility, helps to build strong bones and increases alkalinity within the body helping to open up over 300 different detoxification and elimination pathways.
How much of me should you take? As much as you like - Cacao has a slightly bitter taste on its own but if mixed with something sweet such as a Banana, Bee Pollen or Goji Berries the unmistakable taste of strong dark chocolate begins to reveal itself.
Sprinkle onto cereal, yogurts, deserts, blend into a smoothie or simply nibble on the nibs.
The Maya believed that the kakaw (cacao) was discovered by the gods in a mountain that also contained other delectable foods to be used by the Maya. According to Maya mythology, the Plumed Serpent gave cacao to the Maya after humans were created from maize by divine grandmother goddess Xmucane. The Maya celebrated an annual festival in April to honor their cacao God Ek Chuah, an event that included the sacrifice of a dog with cacao colored markings; offerings of cacao, feathers and incense; and an exchange of gifts. In a similar creation story, the Mexica (Aztec) god Quetzalcoatl discovered cacao (cacahuatl: "'bitter water"'), in a mountain filled with other plant foods. Cacao was offered regularly to a pantheon of Mexica deities and the Madrid Codex depicts priests lancing their ear lobes (autosacrifice) and covering the cacao with blood as a suitable sacrifice to the gods. The cacao beverage as ritual were used only by men, as it was believed to be toxic for women and children.
There are several mixtures of cacao described in ancient texts, for ceremonial, medicinal uses as well as culinary purposes. Some mixtures included maize, chili, vanilla, peanut butter and honey.
Cacao beans are the raw ingredient that all chocolate is made from. Originating in Central America, Cacao beans were so revered by ancient cultures they were used as money, so for these people money really did grow on trees! Cacao is the most complex food substance on earth.
In 1753 Carl von Linnaeus, the 18th-century Swedish scientist, thought that cacao was so important that he named the genus and species of this tree himself. He named this tree: Theobroma cacao, which literally means "cacao, the food of the gods."
Raw Cacao contains over 300 identifiable chemical compounds, and is high in magnesium, iron, chromium, tryptophan, and antioxidants. It also contains PEA and anandamide, Dopamine and serotonin.
Raw Cacao is approximately 40 times higher in antioxidants than blueberries.
Cacao beans contain no sugar and between 12% and 50% fat depending on variety and growth conditions.
Contrary to popular opinion, cacao is a poor source of caffeine. A typical sample of cacao nibs or cacao beans will yield anywhere from zero caffeine to 1,000 parts per million of caffeine (less than 1/20th of the caffeine present in coffee).
Sulphur and Magnesium
Cacao is remarkably rich in sulphur and magnesium. Sulphur is associated with strong nails, hair, beautiful, shiny skin, and a clean liver and pancreas.
Cacao seems to be the number one source of magnesium of any food. This is probably the primary reason women crave chocolate during their period. Magnesium is associated with balanced brain chemistry, strong bones, and happiness. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard UK Diet (SUKD); over 80% of us are chronically deficient in Magnesium!
"Every study on chocolate is pointing to the same conclusion: there is something in chocolate that is really good for us. That something is the raw cacao bean, the nut that all chocolate is made from. The cacao bean has always been and will always be Nature's no 1 weight loss and high-energy food. Cacao beans are probably the best kept secret in the entire history of food."
- David Wolfe, co-author of Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth About The World's Greatest Food.
Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) - these are different from digestive enzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favorable results when consumed by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) is found in chocolate. PEA is an adrenal-related chemical that is also created within the brain and released when we are in love. This is one of the reasons why love and chocolate have a deep correlation. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.
Anandamide (the bliss chemical)
A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as the bliss chemical because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies' ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that natural anandamide and/or cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer, when we eat cacao.
A recent study showed that only one out of 500 people who thought they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive. Allergies to chocolate are quite rare. It is typically the case that the person is in fact allergic to milk and dairy products.