5 Benefits Of Cacao: Food of the Gods
An excuse to eat chocolate? How could we pass this up! As you know, chocolate is made from the cacao plant, specifically the beans found in its fruit. The use of cacao and the first chocoholics date back to 1800 B.C. by the Olmecs and Mayans. It was named Theobroma cacao or the “Food of the Gods“ because the benefits of eating or drinking it were unsurpassed.
Cacao is not simply a superfood, it is arguably one of the most incredible superfoods. In Mayan culture it is believed that cacao was only enjoyed by the elite and used also for medicinal purposes.(1) The Aztecs are thought to have used it for ceremonial purposes. Dr. Debra Miller, states that, “Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit” providing nutritive value beyond that of their macronutrient composition.”(2) But what are all the benefits of cacao and what are its purest forms?
According to the Chemistry Central Journal, “chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and contains more polyphenols and flavanols than fruit juice.” (3) The antioxidants may also contribute to improving cardiovascular health, (4) lowering your cholesterol, and improving your blood pressure!
Cacao increases the amounts of serotonin in the body which affects one’s mood. This is because serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter in the body. Such transmitters “can be found in the intestinal wall, large blood vessels and the central nervous system,” but most importantly “within the brain [neurotransmitters] function to regulate arousal, temperature regulation, mood, appetite, sleep and pain.”(5)
You may think of chocolate as a delectable dessert, but did you realize the cacao in the chocolate actually has real, tangible health benefits? Cacao is an anti-inflammatory due to the compounds it contains, such as bifidobacterium and lactic acid, which can “lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke.”(6)
Cacao is also a subtle natural stimulant. So if you are wishing to have a little boost of energy during the day without the same effects as coffee, cacao might just be your answer. Chocolate contains carbohydrates, fats, and sugars as well as alkaloids. One of these alkaloids is theobromine, which acts in a similar way to caffeine, but without the same effects on the central nervous system. Cacao also accelerates the heart more than caffeine and dilates blood vessels, enabling better blood flow. (7)
May Prevent Memory Loss:
Cacao dilates blood vessels according to studies, which suggests that its consumption in quality chocolates increases blood flow to the brain helping memory retention. (8)
Cacao products that are best to include in your diet are:
Photo Credit: Ashley Sisk Photography; The Whimsical Photographer; Fresh Cacao from São Tomé & Príncipe, cacao fruit and beans, Everjean (CC); Rogue Chocolatier, chocolate bar with beans, Everjean (CC);
Tags: Anti depressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, Cacao, chocolate, cocoa powder, Dark, dark chocolate, delicious, energy, essentials, food of the gods, health, healthy, hot cocoa, Inca, Mayan, natural, organic, super food, super foods, yummy
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