The seed of the cacao tree Theobroma cacao is one of the richest sources of antioxidants available and the basis of chocolate. However, it’s important to keep it raw to preserve all their nutrients intact, once roasted, baked of cooked, many components are destroyed or transformed, specially it’s most important component theobromine, a cardiovascular stimulant alkaloid that provides lots of energy without affecting the nervous system and increases nutrient uptake during digestion, but when heated, turns into caffeine that is damaging to the nervous system and that stresses kidneys and liver.
You can consume raw cacao in the form of beans, nibs, powder or cacao butter. Personally, I prefer the nibs and powder but only because of convenience.
Some of the benefits of consuming cacao are:
* It’s high in antioxidants such as oligomeric procynanidins, resveratrol and the polyphenols: catechin and epicatechin (that prevents stroke damage). Antioxidants help to protect from environmental and metabolic toxins like free radicals and may reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
* Increases the levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brain such as: anandamide (the only food that contains this neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of “bliss”), N-linoleoylethanolamine (prevents the re-uptake of anandamide), phenylethylamine (known as the “love molecule”, a mild mood elevator that increases focus and alertness), dopamine (boosts motivation and pleasure), MAO Inhibitors (prevents the re-uptake of serotonin and dopamine), coumarin (appetite suppressant that has anti-tumor properties), asparaginase (an enzyme that has anti-leukemia properties), serotonin (antidepressant, promotes a sense of well being), ergosterol (a precursor to vitamin D) and sitosterol (decreases LDL cholesterol).
* Helps to maintain a healthy weight because of it’s high contents of chromium and coumarin.
* Prevents cavities. Theobromine kills streptococci mutans bacteria one of the main tooth decay agents.
* Regulates blood sugar, strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system, and dissolves plaque build up in the arteries.
* It’s the highest source of magnesium that balances brain chemistry, regulates heartbeat and blood pressure, relaxes muscles, improves proper bowel function and builds strong bones.
And on top of this, it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods available with hight contents of vitamin A, B (1, 2, 3, 5 and 6), C, E, magnesium, copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, sulphur, iron, chromium, phosphorus, omega 6 fatty acids and amino acids… and tastes great, what else is there?!