Superfoods Just got Sexier: Cacao
Cacao is, at it best, the raw and powered form of the Theobroma Cacao bean. It is the basic material that chocolate is derived from. Do not get CACAO confused with COCOA. Cocoa is the stuff you make hot chocolate from. Cacao (kah-Kaw) is the unprocessed form of this.
There is awesome news for those that are chocoholics: You can have chocolate and still be healthy. But it will not be in the form of the stuff you get at candy stores or even the fine chocolates that are painted gold. In order to reap the max benefits from cacao, you have to eat it without the sugar.
I know that there are other dietitians out there that saw “healthy diet in moderation” but I’m here to tell you that is propaganda. “Moderation” is often code for “I eat donuts on the reg - don’t judge.” This is unacceptable. Sugar is a poison and a drug and you should avoid it as best you can. Think “I can have a sugary treat a couple of times a year” not a couple of times a months or weeks.
Highly sweetened chocolate and milk chocolate are typically void of the wonderful things that make cacao awesome and delicious. Just like green powder, cacao is a superfood.
This stuff is so strong, indigenous South Americans used it as drugs and medicine. That's a good thing! Cacao is jam packed with nutrition:
Magnesium - this is part of the electrolyte group and is often deficient in women. Eating the proper amount of magnesium can curb excess hunger.
Theobromine - a stimulant like caffeine but not as strong and doesn't give the jitters. The amount of theobromine and caffeine varies depending on the region the bean come from.
Tryptophan and Anandamide - increase and protect brain function
Iron - the highest plant source of iron
Calcium - bones and muscle function
Antioxidants and flavonoids - decrease the presence of free radicals in the body. A much higher content than berries.
The is by no means a complete list. I read a couple of articles that said cacao was home to over 300 natural chemicals and nutrients!
Cacao is also a mood booster. Anyone who has eaten a large sum of dark unsweetened chocolate has felt the high that comes with is. This is why it is also called an aphrodisiac. In addition to serotonin, it boosts anandamide and phenylethylamine which is the chemicals released during love and sex.
For those of you who have BRCA gene mutation 1 or 2, you may want to consider adding a regular dose of raw cacao to your diet. Cacao is a source of resveratrol. This has been linked to suppression of the cancer mutation of the BRCA1 gene expression
Resveratrol is found in wine, grapes and cacao. While I’m not much of a wine drinker, I am a chocolate lover and this is my preferred method of resveratrol consumption.
If this is an issue in your family, you may want to check out this article for more information.
How to use
Listen, anything that makes you feel good or keeps you stimulated can ultimately be unhealthy. Although I’d love to tell you to drink a daily cup of cacao, I think that two or three times a week should be enough.
Depending on you health and sensitivity, the stimulant in cacao can mess with heart function (but I haven’t seen a study on this yet. Just hypothesis from scientist). Because of its mood enhancing benefits, you can become mildly addicted and begin craving it (yeah, ok, I’m already there).
The point is, make it a regular part of your diet. You will bypass the need for daily vitamins and supplements.
Remember, food is your medicine!