For those of you who have followed me long enough, talks about the downside to commercial cocoa and cacao products are common. In fact, I do still only use raw cacao very sparingly, if at all, preferring ceremonial grade cacao because of its whole food benefits, raw cacao, and indeed cocoa
Ceremonial grade cacao is fermented, sun-dried and lightly roasted to make its medicinal qualities more bio-available, thereby eliminating any troubling mycotoxins of most raw cacaos. It is not a raw product but, indigenous cultures have prepared the
Health benefits of cacao:
The cacao plant, however, is an extraordinary plant that has been utilized and prized for its medicinal properties for centuries. Traditionally cultivated amongst the Mayan and Aztec populations of Central and South America, cacao was was believed to be of divine origin: the cacao tree was a bridge between earth and heaven, playing an important part in rituals and ceremonies as well as utilized for monetary trade. Cacao is a superfood that contains important properties that connect mind, body, and soul. Rich in antioxidants, cacao offers a tremendous amount of nutritional value. Cacao consumption can not only improve heart and blood vessel health and neurodegenerative diseases, but activate your “bliss and joy” neurotransmitters, improve your skin, and serve as a heart opening medicine to experience awakening, revelation and inner healing.
Improves Blood Flow to Your Brain and Brain Function
Polyphenols, such as those in cacao, reduces your risk of neurodegenerative diseases by improving brain function and blood flow. Flavanols can cross the blood-brain barrier and are involved in the biochemical pathways that produce neurons and important molecules for the function of your brain. Consequently, increased blood flow helps improve memory, and helps protect against dementia and stroke.
Boots Anandamine & Serotonin
Our bliss and neurotransmitters such as serotonin can improve mood, enhance sleep and reduce the sensation of pain. Anandamide: in Sanskrit, ananda literally means “bliss,” making anandamide the “love molecule” in cacao. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter found naturally in cacao and also in the human brain. Anandamide doesn’t leave you in a mind-altered state, but, does produce a feeling of euphoria. Raw cacao also boosts the body’s natural production of serotonin, increasing our mood and ability to fend off stress.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) – Better known as “the love chemical,” for its association with the giddy excitement one feels when falling in love. When ingested, PEA stimulates the central nervous system to release the body’s natural opium-like compounds called endorphins. PEA signals the body to promote the sensation of alertness, focus, and mental acuity, all while elevating one’s mood, speeding up metabolism, and boosting memory.
Rich source of antioxidants
Cacao beans are the richest known source of antioxidants with 40 times that of blueberries. Its Oxygen Radical Absorbance score is 95,500 µmol – compared to other antioxidant rich foods, like goji berries or acai berries which both score below 30,000 µmol. Antioxidants assist the body in supporting the immune system – The immune system is your body’s natural defense system. It’s an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that band together to defend your body against invaders. Those invaders can include bacteria, viruses, parasites, even a fungus, all with the potential to make us sick.
Reduces Bad cholesterol & Lowers blood pressure
Drinking cacao each day may boost levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol as well as lower blood pressure. Flavanols within this Mayan fruit influence the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes the muscles of your blood vessels, improving blood flow and blood supply to your brain. Chocolate polyphenols increase the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps to relax/dilate blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure in another way.
Increases Energy & Combats Fatigue
Every cell in the body contains magnesium – A mineral required to function. Magnesium helps increase energy, calms nerves, aids in digestion, and relieves muscle aches and pains. Magnesium is key to muscle and nerve function, keeping the heart rhythm steady. Thanks to its high magnesium content, cacao improves muscle structure and enhances nerve function. Cacao also contains an alkaloid called theobromine. Often confused for caffeine which is processed via the adrenal glands, theobromine is a cardiovascular stimulant, and is processed via the liver – Providing a longer energy boost.
Reduces Cortisol – Our stress hormone
Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is necessary to help the body deal with many of the stresses in life. Just like with other hormones (like insulin) too much of it can lead to some chronic issues in the body. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands as part of its “flight or fight” mechanism. Cacao is rich in polyphenols which helps to reduce the levels of cortisol in our bodies and alleviate the signs of stress.
Cacao offers potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Flavanols found within cacao are responsible for cacao’s anti-inflammatory effects and keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy.
Shiny Hair & Strong Nails
Magnesium plays a vital role in cell division and growth. It is responsible for anti-inflammatory and repair mechanisms in the cells, especially in the hair follicles. Consuming cacao or can boost hair growth from the roots.
Cacao is a powerful partner that helps us connect to our authentic selves, by opening our hearts and assisting in deepening connections. Cacao can be used as a spiritual partner in yoga, meditation, music, inner work, and ceremony. I recommend Ceremonial grade cacao for ceremonies & deeper meditative uses but I drink it as a coffee alternative to open my heart and my intuition as I start my day. Ceremonial grade cacao carries the deepest & highest energy complex for inner work.