A few years ago media headlines proclaimed
“Chocolate is good for you”
“Chocolate is healthy eaten in moderation”
The media may have been leading us towards the darker version with a high cocoa percentage…..but there was no mention of CACAO (pronounced ka-cow).
All the antioxidant value, mineral benefits, neurotransmitter rejuvenating properties and overall health giving qualities of chocolate are found in CACAO, chocolate in its pure raw form, the real deal.
All chocolate is made from CACAO beans. CACAO is chocolate. Just one ingredient.
Cacao is not the same as Cocoa. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures which sadly changes the molecular structure and overall nutritional value.
Production of chocolate over the centuries has evolved to include many steps from bean to finished product and most chocolate bars today are so heavily processed with sugar, dairy and other chemicals you have to wonder if they really deserve the name chocolate!
So I’m afraid its bye! bye! dairy milk. If you want to eat chocolate and reap all the real health benefits Cacao is where its at!
So first a little history..
Cacao is the seed (nut) of an indigenous American jungle tree.
The scientific name of cacao trees is “Theobroma cacao” which translates from Latin, ” Food of the Gods”.
This valuable crop played an important role in many ancient South American cultures for over four thousand years.
Cacao was used by the Mayans and the Aztecs as a ritualistic and indulgent beverage, and this South American concoction was seen as possessing aphrodisiac, healing and revitalizing properties.
Gold was used in the Aztec empire for aesthetic purposes not for money. The coin of the realm in ancient Mexico was the Cacao bean.
Cacao really has a fascinating history and it wasn’t until it was introduced to Europe and the industrial revolution began that it was used for the production of chocolate bars and sweets.
This is when the new era began.
It was the Europeans who combined cacao with refined sugar and milk powder which completely changed the medicinal and health benefits of chocolate. We now know that refined sugar draws minerals out from the body, causes blood sugar disorders, dehydration and is highly addictive.
Sugar with all its attendant dangers, lowered the medicinal value of the chocolate sold in Europe and altered the spirit of cacao’s original healing properties.
Like all superfoods, chocolate straddles the line between a food and a potent and beneficial medicine and here are the reasons why we should be eating natural raw cacao.
♦ Cacao contains an extraordinary type of soluble fibre. This fibre is so perfect for the human digestive system that cacao can be blended, crushed and micronized and will still help cleanse the intestines.
♦ Flavanols and other components found in cacao may lower blood pressure and enhance circulation by promoting dilation, strength, and health of blood vessels.
♦ Cacao is high in resveratrol, a potent antioxidant that protects your nervous system.
♦ Cacao seems to be the number one source of magnesium, one of the great alkaline minerals. Magnesium supports the heart, increases brain power, causes strong peristalsis (bowl movement), relaxes menstrual cramping, relaxes muscles, increases flexibility and helps build strong bones.
♦ Cacao is a great natural source of Zinc, Chromium, Iron, Manganese, Vitamin C, Copper and Omega – 6 Fatty Acids.
♦ Cacao is actually one of the great weight-loss foods because within its extraordinary nutrition profile it contains the minerals and PEA (Phenylethylamine) molecules that shut off appetite.
♦ Cacao boosts your mood by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well-being. Cacao also stimulates the brain to release serotonin that can trigger emotions like euphoria. That’s why some people say chocolate is better than sex!
♦ Theobromine dilates the cardiovascular system, making the hearts job easier. This is one of the major reasons why cacao is an important part of a heart healthy diet.
In David Wofle’s book SUPPERFOODS he writes:-
“ More than anything else, cacao supports the heart in a literal, metaphysical, and spiritual sense. The Aztecs often called cacao yollotl eztli which means heart blood. Cacao supports a healthy cardiovascular system, opens the heart, returns us to our natural state of feeling (instead of excessive thinking), and reconnects us via intuition to the mystery of Mother Natures herbal apothecary. The mythology surrounding cacao seems to always revolve around regaining the human heart connection to Mother Nature.”
I think that is just beautiful♥
But there are some other things we need to be aware of….
There could be a Choc-apocalypse on the horizon
The world has an insatiable appetite for chocolate and there are now big concerns about a potential cocoa shortage. Global demand for chocolate is out pacing production. A number of other factors have contributed to the supply and demand problem like droughts in West Africa and Brazil and fungal disease in Costa Rica and some reports say this this could lead to a cocoa shortage by 2020. Traditionally farmers have fought back against these problems by planting trees on new land but today little is available.
So chocoholics be warned, its time to rein it in!
I like to keep things light-hearted but we need to be mindful when buying chocolate.
Despite improvements in the chocolate industry, human trafficking remains an on going and deep seated problem, and children as young as ten years old are trafficked from Cote D’lvoire and neighbouring countries to harvest the cocoa beans which is back breaking hazardous work. Their freedom is taken away and they are forced to work long hours for no money and live in dangerous conditions.
When you buy a chocolate product you essentially endorse everything that went into producing it so always look for the Rainforest Alliance certificate and the UTZ, Fairtrade stamp as this means better conditions for the children and workers.
Some health experts today actually claim that Raw Cacao is “the healthiest food on the planet” and I have to say it does have a stunning resume!
Cacao has a slightly bitter taste so if you have a very sweet tooth it may take a little taste bud tuning but I’m sure it wont take you long.
The best way to consume it is in powder or nib form. The powder is so versatile and great to add to smoothies, hot drinks, sprinkle it over porridge or fruit and to add to raw deserts. I’ve got some great raw desert recipes to share with you soon but here is one of my favourite Cacao quick fixes, its so delicious and definitely gets my morning motor started.
♦ 1 chopped banana
♦ Handful of kale or spinach
♦ 1 table spoon of cacao
♦ Large cup of almond milk (or milk of your choice)
♦ 2 table spoons of chia seeds
Put all the ingredience in a high speed blender
♦ Pour into glass and sprinkle with bee pollen
Take action now and get CACAO on your shopping list so your body can start to benefit from this amazing super food “the food of the Gods”!
Have a wonderful week