Raw cacao offers amazing health benefits for your entire body! The Incas considered it the drink of gods, an association that gave rise to the scientific name of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink).
You should never feel "guilty" about eating certain foods, but if you've ever felt a little naughty when indulging in chocolate, these 14 ridiculously good reasons to eat cacao will help you realize that high-quality chocolate and cacao are, in fact, a fantastic, healthy addition to your diet:
1.Get Happy With Cacao
Some days you just need to find your bliss – cacao is one of the healthiest foods you can consume. Cacao contains the mood improver, anandamide – known as the bliss molecule, which creates a feeling of euphoria. Plus it's loaded with theobromine, found to halt coughs better than codeine or commercial cough suppressants with the equivalent of two cups! In fact, the UK-based study by the British Lung Foundation discovered codeine was only slightly more effective than the placebo at preventing coughing with no side effects.
2. It Puts You "In The Mood"
Another mood-enhancing compound found in cacao is PEA or phenethylamine, which triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals. These often release naturally when we fall in love and during sexual activity. (The only other food on earth that contains PEA is blue-green algae.) In addition, these chemicals improve libido, which is probably why chocolate is so popular on Valentine ’s Day!
3. Helps To Keep Mood Swings At Bay
Cacao boosts brain levels of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. When women are experiencing PMS serotonin levels drop dramatically. The benefits of cacao are proven to boost the brain levels of calming hormones and restore feelings of well-being.
4. Protects You From Heart Disease
Flavanols are an anti-inflammatory and heart-protective antioxidant group found in cacao. Studies show they can protect against cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of stroke, and help improve blood circulation! Cacao contains over 700 compounds and the complex antioxidants found in it known as polyphenols help reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent hardening of the arteries.
5. Helps To Prevent Signs Of Premature Aging
Polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants as green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in dark colored fruits) and catechins (found in green tea) protect our cells from premature oxidation or destruction and can keep us looking and feeling younger longer.
6. Boost Your Energy Naturally!
Mineral-rich cacao energizes the body without overstimulating the nervous system, giving you incredible long-lasting energy! Create loads of energy and combat fatigue with one of the highest concentrations of magnesium found in this natural food source. Magnesium also helps to protect against osteoporosis, reduces type II diabetes, and lowers blood pressure. Raw cacao powder (2tbsp) contains 52mg or 14% of daily value.
7. It's A Beauty Food
Get shiny hair, strong nails, and take care of your liver and pancreas with this great source of sulfur. Sulfur has a significant impact on our complexion, hair and how our skin glows. It has the ability to continuously build and rebuild collagen and keratin which is important for hair, skin and nails to get their shine whilst also playing an important role in driving nutrients into and out of cells, blood sugar regulation, tissue repair and our immune system.
8. Improve Your Metabolism
Not getting enough antioxidants in your diet can have dangerous long-term health consequences. A Swiss study found that in just under two weeks cacao reduced the stress hormone cortisol, improved metabolism, and even improved gut microbial activity.
9. Helps To Prevent Sunburn
A recent study by London scientists found participants who ate 20 grams of cacao for 12 weeks were able to stay in the sun for twice as long as those who didn’t, without getting sunburned.
10. Get Glowing Skin
In 2006 the Journal of Nutrition found that women who drank cacao with at least 326 mg of flavonols a day had better skin texture, improved microcirculation, increased oxygen saturation, and improved skin hydration than those didn’t. Stir some cacao powder in your cup of coffee or add to a smoothie.
11. May Protect Against Skin Cancer
German scientists found that cacao may protect against harmful UV rays that cause cancer. Dietary flavanols from cocoa and cacao contribute to sunlight protection, improves dermal blood circulation, and improve your skin's surface and hydration!
12. Fights Tooth Decay
Recent studies from Tulane University discovered that an extract of cacao powder was even more effective than fluoride in preventing cavities. This crystalline extract similar to caffeine helps harden teeth enamel. Fascinating! Though we don't recommend brushing your teeth with chocolate just yet...
13. Helps To Improve Brain Function
Cacao appears to improve cognitive function and prevents Alzheimer’s! A Harvard study by Dr. Gary Small, showed that middle-aged people who drank two cups a day had improved memory and increased blood flow to the brain.
14. It's Nature's Aspirin!
The Department of Nutrition at University of California, Davis, discovered that cacao thins blood and can prevent blood clots. This finding shows that eating raw cacao can be just as beneficial as taking an aspirin a day.
It's official, we love chocolate even more! From improving your memory, increasing your bliss, reducing heart disease, boosting immunity, and giving you loads of energy. It really is a superfood worth enjoying regularly!
The key to getting the most benefit is making your own chocolate, or consuming raw chocolate, as studies have found that by adding dairy to cacao, it stops you from absorbing the antioxidants. So it's definitely worth the extra effort to make your own! Plus, you'll know exactly what's in it, avoiding processed sugars and other unwanted ingredients.