Benefits of Cacao & Chocolate!
A “Fresh Cacao Pod Opening & Tasting” @chocovivo_la
Last week I went to Chocovivo where the Master Cacao Grower from Mexico brought fresh cacao pods!
They were slightly sweet on the outside, from the silky white covering, and bitter and crunchy on the inside. About an hour after eating a few of the fresh pods as well as a few roasted pods, we started to feel a bit of a “euphoric clarity” is the best way I can describe it.
So, I started doing some research on the benefits of Cacao.
The TEDx talk “How Chocolate Can Save The World” by nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson @shawnmodel, is a must watch! And an article on dailysuperfoodlove.com, has some great information in an easy to digest form, pun intended 🤓
There are a ton of scientific studies and research on the benefits of cacao.
Here’s an important tip:
If there’s any dairy mixed into the cacao, it blocks the nutrients from full absorption!
Eat dairy-free chocolate
The higher the % of cacao the better. 85% dairy-free Cacao or higher is best.
Mix powdered Raw Cacao into your morning smoothie.
So, can cacao really improve your health?
YES! here’s a list of some of the best benefits of eating cacao:
Find Your Bliss:
Cacao contains the “bliss molecule”, or Anandamide, which is known to be a mood improver and can create a euphoric feeling.
The Aphrodisiac Effect:
Cacao contains PEA or phenylethylamine, an adrenal related chemical that triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals. The body releases these naturally during sexual activity and when falling in love. And, as Shawn says in his TEDx talk, “The only other food on earth that contains PEA is blue-green algae.” And Cacao tastes much better!
Balancing Hormonal Mood Swings:
Serotonin levels in the brain (the “feel good” brain chemical) are boosted by Cacao. Serotonin levels, for example, drop when women are experiencing PMS. Cacao boosts the serotonin levels creating feelings of well being and calmness.
Blood Thinning & Clot Prevention:
Cacao thins the blood and can prevent blood clots: A study by the Department of Nutrition at University of California showed that eating cacao has an aspirin-like effect on blood clotting and can be similar to taking an aspirin a day.
The same group of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea can be found in Cacao (polyphenol antioxidants). They protect cells from oxidation (think of it like a car rusting) and keep you looking younger longer.
Reduced Craving + Weight Loss
A research study done in the Netherlands found that the appetite levels of people who simply smelled 85-percent dark chocolate dropped by up to half. Smelling dark chocolate stimulates production of ghrelin, an anti-hunger hormone, and the effect lasts for about an hour.
The most common mineral deficiency in humans is Magnesium. And Cacao has a high concentration of Magnesium. Magnesium lowers blood pressure, helps to protect against osteoporosis and reduces type II diabetes.
Cortisol is produced by stress in the body which then stimulates the accumulation of abdominal fat. The good news is a study in 2009 found people who ate 40 grams (about an ounce) of dark chocolate every day for two weeks had lower levels of cortisol. A second study showed people who ate dark chocolate every day for thirty days also felt 10 percent more calm and 10 percent less anxiety.
On top of being super healthy, cacao is really easy to add to your diet: Simply add it to smoothies, teas, or even your favourite desserts!
Here is a great "Flat Belly Smoothie Recipe:
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Aloe Vera Juice
1-2 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder
4 Tablespoons Chia Seeds *Gel (*See Recipe below) (Satiates the body)
3 Tablespoons Raw Hemp Seeds (great protein source)
½ Cup Organic Blueberries (or Strawberries, Oranges, Grapefruit)
½ -1 Cup unsweetened Almond Milk (or water or Hemp milk)
Optional - 1 Tablespoon Almond Butter
Chia Seeds Gel*
Fill a glass jar, like a mason jar, ⅓ full of organic chia seeds, fill the rest with water and stir well. Cover and put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. It will form a gel that can be used by the tablespoon in smoothies and other dishes.
See This podcast by Shawn Stevenson for “Foods to Avoid” & good substitutes.
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