The Incredible Cacao!
Cacao was an important part of ancient Mayan and Aztec life, not just as a beverage or food, but as a pillar of their economy and it played a major role in their spiritual ceremonies
Since the discovery of the cacao tree, entire civilizations myths and legends, social habits, and religions have been influenced and based upon this fruit bearing tree.
So what is cacao?
Cacao is not cocoa. Cacao is the raw and naturally fermented, un-heated form of chocolate, while cocoa is cacao that has been heated. Processed chocolate is made with roasted cocoa, sugar, milk, and other ingredients that turn it into a solid substance. Studies have found that by adding dairy this actually blocks the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate. The real health benefits are only found in the raw form. Organic raw cacao has an array of amazing benefits.
Benefits of Cacao
One obvious benefit is Cacao is not loaded with sugars, while chocolate and cocoa are. Cacao is a renowned aphrodisiac, mood enhancer, and antioxidant. It’s densely packed with nutrients. It literally is a nutritional powerhouse. The beans from the Cacao have over 1200 chemical constituents making cacao the most complex food in nature. It can improve your memory, increase your bliss, reduce heart disease, shed fat, boost immunity, and create loads of energy. Another mood-enhancing compound found in cacao is PEA which triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals. These are the same chemicals that are released when we fall in love.
Cacao contains the neurotransmitters serotonin, tryptophan and dopamine that stimulate brain activity and are vital in regulating mood. Serotonin is the feel-good brain chemical responsible for feelings of wellbeing. Cacao also contains anandamide: This mood improving chemical is known as the bliss molecule and leaves us feeling blissful and euphoric, but also plays a vital role in moderating pain perception and the memory of pain, as well as assisting in regulating appetite and mood.
A 2006 study found that regular consumption of cacao may reduce cardiac mortality by fifty percent. Newer research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed that the consumption of cacao or its active constituents reduces a broad range of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, some of which include insulin resistance. The researchers looked at 42 acute and long-term studies and found insulin resistance was reduced by a third following consumption. And an added benefit is it tastes great too!