Chocolate has gotten a bad rap for a long time. Many people don’t realize there is a different in chocolates. Your cooked processed, heated chocolate is not going to have the same benefits as a raw organic cacao bean. When I was on my journey of a Raw Food Diet I feel in love with cacao and it was great — for awhile. But then I was eating cacao in excess and this caused some health issues. There is a big difference between raw and refined chocolate – raw cacao contains high levels of antioxidants and minerals while the refined does not – but in excess it doesn’t matter it can be toxic to your health.
There are many raw foodists who have turned completely against cacao but in my opinion, most probably ran into health issues like myself by indulging a little too much. For a very long time I had to give up all chocolate until I nursed my adrenals back to good health. Today I do eat cacao but sparingly! It is a special treat that I savor.
All chocolate is made from cacao beans – cacao is chocolate! All the antioxidant value, mineral benefits, euro-transmitter rejuvenating properties, and overall health giving qualities of chocolate are found in original cacao. Chocolate consists of one ingredient – no sugar, no dairy, no chemicals required – the one ingredient is cacao.
Cacao is the seed (nut) of a fruit of an indigenous American jungle tree. In 1753 Carl Linnaeus, 18th century Swedish scientist that cacao was so important that he named the tree himself – Theobroma cacao or “Cacao, the food of the Gods.”
There is no cacao season – chocolate is always In season. The cacao tree flowers and produces fruit all year long. Cacao flowers are not pollinated by bees but instead by tiny insects called midges.
The cacao fruit is hard shelled and does not fall to the jungle floor when ripe in the wild, the ripe cacao fruits are gnawed into by monkeys, birds, bats, and other jungle animals. Typically, some of the seeds fall in the jungle forest and, with good conditions, a new tree is born.
Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them instead of gold as money. When political turmoil caused Cortez to return to Spain in 1528, he brought with him precious minerals, agricultural goods and most likely, cacao beans. Cortez was probably the first to bring chocolate to Europe. The world would never be the same. About the cacao drink, he wrote it was: “The divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food.”
Cacao in Chinese Medicine
Treasures: Yang, jing, qui/qi, blood
atmospheric Energy: subtly cooling (in excess…heating)
Taste: sweet, bitter, astringent
Organ Association: heart, kidneys, spleen
According to David Wolfe, author of Superfoods the Food and Medicine of the Future, Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. These antioxidants include polyphenols, catechins, and epicatechins. By weight, cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries combined.
Some Qualities of Cacao:
- Cacao seems to be the number one source of magnesium. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet.
- Cacao contains 314 percent of the US RDA of iron per 1 ounce serving.
- Cacao contains enough chromium to help reverse deficiencies in this mineral.
- Cacao is a rich source of manganese, an essential trace mineral.
- Excellent source of zinc.
- One ounce of cacao nibs supplies 21 percent of the US RDA of vitamin C
- Anandamide is a cannabinoid endorphin that the human body naturally produces after exercise. Anandamide has only been found in one plant – cacao.
- Cacao contains significant quantities of the essential amino acid tryptophan, a powerful mood-enhancing nutrient.
- Cacao is a poor source of caffeine. A typical sample of cacao nibs or beans will yield from zero caffeine to 1,000 parts per million of caffeine (less than 1/20th of the caffeine present in conventional coffee).
Benefits of Cacao:
- Eases PMS
- Improves Brain Function
- Enhances Glucose Metabolism
- Can lift spirits and improve mood
Note: Cacao has great qualities and benefits as long as not taken in excess.
Shop for the best quality cacao you can find. Be aware that poor-quality cacao is available that has been heated, fumigated, fermented, conventionally grown and contaminated.