No really, Chocolate is good for you!
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. Media stories reporting on how science has confirmed that chocolate is good for our health. Well my friends, I’m here to confirm that for you. Yes, chocolate really is good for us. Not commercially processed and produced chocolate, full of sugar and dairy, but proper dark chocolate. And even then, the distinction needs to be made between commercially produced dark chocolate and cocoa, and what the health food industry has come to identify as Raw Cacao. Yep, the name for real chocolate is Cacao (pronounced ‘Ka-Cow’).
Cacao is the seed of the fruit of an indigenous South American tree, ‘Theobroma Cacao’. Traditionally cacao was revered by native Mayan and Aztec cultures for its amazing, almost magical health- giving benefits. When the Spanish first encountered the Aztecs, they were amazed to find that the royal treasury was ‘choc’ full of cacao beans. It was actually being used as the currency of the time. They only used gold to decorate temples, building and the like. Cacao was always traditionally taken as a drink and no sweeteners were used. It was once the Europeans traded for cacao and took it back to Europe that it was combined with refined sugar and milk, and turned into the confectionary we are all familiar with.
So what’s so good about cacao? Well, it is one of the most amazing superfood substances on Earth, due to its rich mineral content and wide array of unique properties. Many of these beneficial substances are destroyed by cooking, processing and refining, so it’s important to identify raw cacao over commercially processed dark chocolate or cocoa powder.
Cacao has been identified as one of the best natural food sources for the following nutrients:
Antioxidants: has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any known food. By weight, cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates and goji berries combined.
Magnesium, Iron, Chromium, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin C, Omega 6 fatty acid.
Phenylethylamine: a class of compounds that the body produces when we fall in love.
Anandamide: a cannabinoid endorphin that the human body produces after exercise. This substance has only been found in one plant; cacao.
Tryptophan: a powerful mood-enhancing transmitter which is a precursor to serotonin production.
Serotonin: cacao is rich in tryptamine serotonin, which helps the body defend against neurological and psychological stress.
Fibre: cacao contains an extraordinary type of soluble fibre that is perfect for our digestive system.
Methylxanthines: Caffeine & Theobromine
Cacao does contain very minute levels of caffeine. A typical sample of cacao beans will contain anywhere between 0-1000 parts per million of caffeine, which is less than 1/20th of the caffeine in conventional coffee. Cacao will usually contain about 1% Theobromine. This is a relative of caffeine but is not a nervous system stimulant. It dilates the cardiovascular system easing the workload on the heart. This action is part of the cardiovascular benefits that cacao can deliver.
We all know that eating chocolate makes you feel good. When you eat raw cacao these feelings are amplified greatly. We are able to get high doses of all these amazing vitality boosting substances into us with a food that tastes great. Cacao does not taste sweet. It has an earthy, bitter taste to it. If you like dark chocolate, then cacao is obviously very similar. The beauty of cacao is that you can add it to smoothies, desserts, eat it as is, eat it combined with other superfoods in raw chocolate bars, it’s very versatile, and when combined with something sweet the kids love it. Just remember that cooking it will reduce some portion of its value, as nutrients and amino acids are destroyed.
You can buy cacao as whole beans, nibs (broken up beans), powder (with the cacao butter/fat removed, so low fat content) and the butter itself. Each can be used in a different way and are often combined in recipes.
Source your cacao from health stores or your complementary health clinic. Remember to buy raw cacao for its genuine health benefits, not supermarket cocoa powder or processed dark chocolate. Once you experience the awesome power of this superfood you may never look at Dairymilk again.
Travis is available for consultation at Mornington Chinese Medicine on Tuesday and Thursday.
To book your appointment please call us on ph: 5973 6886.