Chocolate Ingredient #1: Cacao
This week I’ll break down my simple raw chocolate recipe (found at http://wp.me/p2MUih-2R) and explain the health benefits of each of the ingredients.
The most fundamental ingredient in chocolate is the cacao bean. Often this bean is processed to separate the out the fat, called cocoa butter, leaving behind a powder called cocoa. When you buy pure cacao, either in powder or nibs, you are buying it in its natural form. This is the way your body wants it – unprocessed.
Cacao is one of the best sources of magnesium on the planet. Many, many of us are deficient in magnesium. Among other things, magnesium deficiency results in tense muscles because the mineral is used to unflex them after they are flexed. This is the reason why some crave chocolate when under stress. Using chocolate to replenish magnesium allows those tense back and shoulder muscles to finally relax. Any chocolate bar with sugar or milk has displaced out the cacao with these sweeteners and so those products cannot be used in this therapeutic way.
Cacao is also high in antioxidants. These molecules repair free radicals in the body, preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Cacao contains tryptophan which the brain can convert to serotonin. This hormone is a factor in mood, relieving depression, and also can counteract the negative effects of PMS. This may be why so many of us associate chocolate with happiness. It actually gives us the physical feeling we get when we are happy.
Flavenoids in cacao help reduce blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. This will increase blood flow to the brain, causing one to feel more alert and sharp. When the spanish arrived in the new world 500 years ago, the people of central America drank a recipe similar to mine many times per day as a pick me up, kind of like we do with coffee. The difference is that their drink made them look and feel amazing whereas excess coffee use tends to decrease overall health. Many people today use a certain blue pill to increase blood flow to an area considerably south of the brain. Consider chocolate as a safer and more delicious option.
While many consider chocolate a bad food because of caffeine content, it is actually not high in caffeine at all. What it contains in greater amounts is a similar chemical called theobromine which has many health benefits while also giving a stimulating feeling like caffeine does. Among other things, theobromine strengthens your teeth, so you might consider it a safer option than fluoride.
Chocolate has even been found to be a better cough suppressant than off the shelf cough medicines.
As you can see, there are many reasons why chocolate made with raw cacao is great for your health. And this is just the first ingredient in the recipe.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about coconut oil.