Cacao is the seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree that was brought to Central America during or before the time of the Olmecs. Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them as money. Montezuma, the famous Aztec emperor, had his vaults filled not with gold but with about 960,000,000 raw cacao beans.
In 1753 Carl von Linnaeus, the 18th-century Swedish scientist,Cacao thought that cacao was so important that he named the genus and species of this tree Theobroma cacao, which literally means “cacao, the food of the gods.”
Cacao beans contain no sugar and between 12% and 50% fat depending on variety and growth conditions. There is no evidence to implicate cacao bean consumption with obesity.
Sulfur and Magnesium
Cacao is remarkably rich in sulfur and magnesium. It seems to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during the menstrual period. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and is associated with more happiness. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet (SAD); over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium.
Cacao is high in the beauty mineral sulfur. Sulfur builds strong nails, hair, beautiful, shiny skin, detoxifies the liver, and supports healthy pancreas functioning. Anecdotal reports indicate that cacao detoxifies mercury because it is so high sulfur.
Stimulant or Superfood?
Cacao contains subtle amounts of caffeine and theobromine. However, experiments have shown that these stimulants are far different when consumed raw than cooked.
Consider the following: experiments with chocolate by Homeopaths indicate its stimulating effect when cooked. One experiment conducted with a decoction of roasted ground cacao beans in boiling water produced an excitement of the nervous system similar to that caused by black coffee, an excited state of circulation, and an accelerated pulse. Interestingly, when the same decoction was made with raw, unroasted beans neither effect was noticeable, leading the provers to conclude that the physiological changes were caused by aromatic substances released during roasting.
Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) – these are different from digestiveenzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favorable results when consumed by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain. MAO inhibitors facilitate youthening and rejuvenation.
Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical)
A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as “The Bliss Chemical” because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies’ ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that natural anandamide and/or cacaoanandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer, when we eat cacao.
According to research cited in The New York Times, fresh cacao beans are super-rich in antioxidant flavonols. Cacao beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) per 100 grams of flavonol antioxidants. This is a whopping 10% antioxidant concentration level! This makes cacao one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food. Compare the cacao bean to processed cocoa powder (defatted, roasted cacao treated with potassium carbonate) and chocolates which range in flavonol content from the more common concentration of 500 milligrams per 100 grams in normal chocolate bars to 5,000 milligrams in Mars Corporation’s special Cocoapro cocoa powder. Research has demonstrated that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to human metabolism. Cornell University food scientists found that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times what is found in green tea. Their findings were published in an article entitled “Cocoa has more Phenolic Phytochemicals and a higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine,” found in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication. Scientists have known that cocoa contains significant antioxidants, but no one knew just how rich they were compared with those in red wine and green tea. The Cornell researchers, led by Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., say the reason that cocoa leads the other drinks is its high content of antioxidant compounds called phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids. They discovered 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) in a single serving of cocoa. Examining a glass of red wine, the researchers found 340 milligrams of GAE and 163 milligrams of ECE. In a cup of green tea, they found 165 milligrams of GAE and 47 milligrams of ECE.
Antioxidant ORAC levels per 100 grams:
- broccoli – 890
- alfalfa sprouts – 930
- plums – 949
- brussel sprouts – 980
- raspberries – 1220
- spinach – 1260
- strawberries – 1540
- kale – 1,770
- blackberries – 2036
- blueberries – 2,400
- raisins – 2,830
- prunes – 5,770
- dark chocolate – 13,120
The ORAC test examines the antioxidant levels of various foods. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food. Source: US Department of Agriculture / Journal of the American Chemical Society
Cacao and dark chocolate boost antioxidants; however, the addition of dairy products/milk cancels out the effects of antioxidants. Studies indicate that dairy products specifically block the absorption of all the great antioxidants in chocolate.
Other facts on Raw Cacao beans
- Raw Cacao is the latest Raw Super Food available on the market today.
- It is a true super food unlike anything that has come before.
- As already previously discussed, it is the highest known source of anti-oxidants by a factor of almost 5.
- It has nearly 20 times the antioxidant levels of red wine and up to 30 times what is found in green tea.
- In nature, the primary source of Magnesium is cacao (raw chocolate beans).
Raw chocolate is known to have the following properties:
- Diminishes appetite and aids in weight loss.
- Increases sensuality and beauty.
- Helps to heal and open the heart.
- Nourishes the intellect and attracts prosperity.
The flavor of Raw Cacao is similar to dark, bitter chocolate one would normally buy at a store. It is great just eaten plain, with honey, or in your favorite smoothi. (or blend Cacao Beans with Coconut Oil, Almond Butter and Honey – totally divine).
One of the main differences between raw cacao and the chocolate typically available on the open market (cocoa-a processed substance) is that raw cacao has all the original healthy cacao butter, containing all the original essential fatty acids and amazing taste originally found in the bean. Raw cacao or chocolate should not be confused with other substances such as coco (coconut), kola (a nut whose flavor is used in soft drinks), or coca (the leaf of the plant from which cocaine is derived). Cocoa and cocoa butter are cooked, processed substances derived from raw cacao nibs (or beans/nuts). All chocolate starts out as raw cacao beans (or nuts – they are actually the seed of the cacao fruit which grows on a tropical tree). Processing, cooking and roasting corrupt the delicate, complex flavor of the cacao nib (bean without the skin). Raw cacao is one of the most, if not the most, nutrient rich and complex foods known to man.