cacao

The power of cacao explained

Sunday, July 07, 2013 by: Willow Tohi
Tags: theobroma cacao, phytochemicals, superfood

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) For almost 4,000 years, cacao and the chocolate made from it have been a decadent treat. For the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica it was prized as food, medicine, and currency. Considered a gift from their gods, the natives used it in rituals, and extolled its virtues in hieroglyphs, songs, and drawings. The pre-Olmec peoples, the Olmec, the Mayas, and the Aztec all used cacao in their diets and rituals, mostly for their elite. Archeologists have found numerous ceramic and stone vessels with trace amounts of cacao alkaloids dating as far back as 1900 BC.

Most cacao today is cultivated from the theobroma cacao species. It is a beautiful, delicate-looking evergreen tree that grows in the protection of the understory of the rainforest, thriving in wet and humid climate. Less than 10 percent of the tiny, delicate, pinkish-white blossoms will mature into fruit each growing season, starting around the tree's fourth or fifth year. The fruit looks somewhat like an elongated melon with tapered ends. With shallow roots and thin bark, harvesting is not easy. The pods have a woody shell, with a husk and white fruit pulp inside. The ancient peoples used these parts, but today they are discarded for the most part. There are 30-50 seeds, called beans, inside. They are scooped out and dried for several days, often in the sun. The layer of pulp on the beans ferments as it dries, removing the bitter taste of the cocoa and developing the components of the familiar chocolate flavor. Once dried, the beans can be sold or made into cacao powder or cacao butter. It takes around 400 beans to make one pound of chocolate. (http://www.rawcacao.com/)

Today, cacao is cultivated in 20 countries on approximately 17 million acres. It is traded on the international commodities market.

Cacao has many phytochemicals

Cacao is considered a superfood due to its more than 300 nutrients. It could hardly be "the food of the gods" if it weren't powerful, with nutritional and medicinal value (which in turn gave it value as a currency as well). The vitamins, minerals, and dietary nutrients in cacao include protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. It also has quercetin, flavonoids, flavanols, xanthenes, polyphenols, caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide, among others. It has many uses as a stimulant, antibacterial, antioxidant, and protector of the cardiovascular system. (http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/cacao.php)

Traditional uses of the cocoa bean include treatment of fever, coughs, pregnancy pains, digestive aid, depression, combat mental fatigue, PMS, aphrodisiac, diuretic, and vasodilatory. (http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/cacao.php)

In the 16th century, after cacao was imported to Europe, publications began mentioning its health benefits. The Badianus Codex and the Florentine Codex of the 1500s mention many uses for cacao, describing preparations, and identifying treatments in which it was used. These include reducing fever, treating heart weakness, kidney disease, and liver weakness, to name a few. Other important manuscripts and books included other uses such as to treat infections of the throat, kidney, and bladder. (http://www.phytochemicals.info/research/cacao-history.php)

The magnesium and valeric acid in cacao relieve stress and provide a calming effect while the caffeine and theobromine combat fatigue and boost energy. Combine these with the chemical constituents of cacao, such as phenylethylamine (an endorphin) and anadamide (a lipid), which are called "bliss chemicals," and you being to see why eating unsweetened, organic dark chocolate can provide a euphoric feeling. They are adrenal-related chemicals that are created naturally in the body when we get excited, causing alertness and a quickened pulse (http://www.naturalnews.com/022610_cacao_chocolate_raw.html). This is also why it is used as an aphrodisiac.

Cacao phytonutrients are as rich as its history

The health benefits associated with cacao's phytonutrients are many. Europeans discovered it was useful in increasing the weight of emaciated patients, stimulating the nervous system, and improving digestion. They used it for anemia, tuberculosis, gout, fever, low virility, increasing breast milk production, and to "improve mental weakness." Leaves and flowers of the cacao were used to treat stomach and skin problems, including burns. (http://www.phytochemicals.info/research/cacao-history.php)

Many studies indicate that cacao usage reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, including clinical and epidemiological studies and In vivo experiments. Results found cocoa and chocolate to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve platelet function, raise HDL, and decrease LDL oxidation (http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/cacao.php). Studies have also shown chocolate to help relieve emotional stress by relieving stress hormones and biochemical agents in the body. Chocolate allows neurotransmitters to stay in the bloodstream longer, helping a person to relax and providing a natural antidepressant benefit. (http://www.naturalnews.com/030603_cacao_medicine.html)

The flavonoids in cacao are potent as well. They were shown by a Spanish study to have a bactericidal effect on Bacillus cereus. Another study showed them to improve cognitive function (http://www.naturalnews.com/030603_cacao_medicine.html). Additionally, they are the source of the chocolate's antioxidants, known to fight free radicals and reduce or prevent damage to tissue and DNA from oxidation and stress.

Raw chocolate has a much higher nutritional value than that made with roasted beans. It has manganese, vitamin C, omega-6 fatty acids, and chromium, in addition to the nutrients outlined above. The low temperatures used to process raw cacao means more nutrients are left intact. (http://www.naturalnews.com/022610_cacao_chocolate_raw.html)

Considerations for use include making sure to keep it away from dogs as they don't have the ability to digest it, and too much may lead to cardiac arrest. Additionally, there are some who worry about the caffeine content, but it is minimal. The oxalic acid interferes with calcium absorption; one more reason to have smaller amounts of higher quality chocolate. If new to "real chocolate," start small with just five or six cacao nibs or three to four teaspoons of cocoa powder.

To benefit from the phytonutrients of cacao, indulge in rich, organic dark chocolate. Consider trying raw cacao nibs or powder. A little "food of the gods" goes a long way, and the healthful benefits are worth the extra price.

Additional sources for this article include:

http://www.naturalnews.com/030603_cacao_medicine.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theobroma_cacao

http://www.rawcacao.com/

http://www.phytochemicals.info/research/cacao-history.php

http://inventors.about.com/od/foodrelatedinventions/a/chocolate.htm

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.


Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...



GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Now Available at ShopNaturalNews.com

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Podcasts
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...

 

Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...

 

Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through NaturalNews.com, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at www.StorableOrganics.com



Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
GMOs
Quackwatch
Vaccines
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.