Benefits of Cacao
By Kathryn Uehlein
Cacao is one of the most popular superfoods, and there are a lot of good reasons for this! Cacao beans are known for their medicinal and aphrodisiacal properties, as well as their wonderful rich flavor. Cocoa beans are the seed of the fruit tree, Theobroma Cacao, which grows in the shade of the rainforest between 15-20 degrees North and South of the Equator.
Organic raw cacao has more than 300 phytochemicals and nearly four times the antioxidant power of regular dark chocolate. It also contains protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, and sulfur, and so much more.
Unlike processed chocolate (which is cacao that has been cooked and processed with chemicals), antioxidants are preserved in organic raw cacao. Some of these beneficial antioxidants are oligomeric procynanidins, resveratrol and the polyphenols catechin and epicatechin. The vitamin C is also preserved, as well as Omega 6 fatty acids (which become rancid when heated and cause inflammation).
Studies have shown that cacao affects your emotions and mood by raising serotonin levels. This explains why cacao is often craved when one feels gloomy. It also contains a neurotransmitter called theobromine, a mild stimulant sometimes used as a treatment for depression. It releases the compound anandamide, which produces uniquely euphoric feelings of relaxation and contentment. Theobromine also kills streptococci mutans, one of the main types of bacteria responsible for tooth decay and improves asthmatic conditions by opening up the lungs.
Dr. Gabriel Cousens conducted a study on the health benefits of organic raw cacao in 2008. He discovered that it benefits diabetics as a safe food since it raises blood sugar less than most foods . He also discovered was that it is not toxic to the liver except when combined with large amounts of sweeteners high in fructose, such as agave. This is the best clinical study done on how raw cacao benefits human health. The key is to eat minimally processed organic raw cacao in moderate amounts.
In a Harvard study about the Kuna Indian tribe of Panama, they examined the health benefits of cacao in a controlled way. Near the region where the Kuna tribe lived there were other tribes of identical genetic heritage, and very similar diet and lifestyle habits. The only difference was that the Kuna tribe lived where cacao trees grew abundantly. They would consume up to 5 cups of a bitter dark cacao drink on a daily basis. The result was that they had lower rates of all major diseases as well as a longer average life expectancy.
There is much more exciting research about this wonderful superfood. Our conclusion is that organic raw cacao is awesome!