By: Norianna Diesel
Cacao is one of the queens of superfoods. Boasting over 300 nutrients and compounds in this legendary "food of the gods", cacao is one of the best foods to help boost your overall health.
Keep reading to find out more about this delicious superfood!
The Latin name for the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao which literally translates to "Food of the Gods". Its use and history are rich and long, with many Mesoamerican cultures prizing this sacred food that was used for food, drink, and even currency. Because the Aztecs used cacao beverages in virtually all their social and ritualistic occasions, cacao naturally became one of the most valued commodities in Mesoamerica by the 16th century. Once Europeans started invading the territory, they too were introduced to this fermented cacao beverage, named chocolatl in Aztec, which was the beginning of the booming modern chocolate industry that we know today.
Chemical analysis of ancient pottery in what is now present day Honduras, shows the presence of cacao beverages being made as far back as 1,000 BC! The earliest cacao beverages made and consumed at Puerto Escondido (present day Honduras) are thought to have been produced by fermenting the sweet pulp surrounding the seeds.
We can attribute our modern cacao processing to the Mayans, as they developed the basic preparation of cacao paste including: fermenting, drying, roasting, un-shelling, and then finally grinding the cacao. Because cacao beans were difficult to grow and transport, the beans naturally were more rare and thus increased in value, lending to a very viable form of currency. Needless to say, cacao has a fascinating history, and the benefits that we modern peoples can reap from this plant are multitudinous thanks to all of the early work ancient peoples put in laying the groundwork.
Nutritional benefits of Cacao:
It is so important to be consuming RAW cacao if you are looking for any nutritional or health benefits from this superfood. Raw cacao also always means that the beans have been fermented, otherwise the taste would not be palatable. Cocoa, the cousin of cacao, is a highly processed version of cacao, leaving the end product much more devoid of nutrients. Of course when you combine that cocoa with milk and sugar it becomes even less of a nutritional powerhouse. So again, to reap the nutritional benefits of cacao, simply stick to the pure raw organic powder which you can add to your smoothies, dandy-blend mushroom drinks, or other raw treats.
Cacao Boosts Energy:
Cacao can massively help your energy levels due to a number of compounds found within it, including: magnesium, PEA (Phenylethylamine), and theobromine.
Raw cacao is one of the best natural food sources of magnesium you can find.
Raw cacao contains huge amounts of PEA, which naturally increases energy levels, alertness, and concentration.
Raw cacao contains an alkaloid, theobromine, which is a cardiovascular stimulant, helping to increase heart function and blood flow, as well as to help burn fat and boost serotonin levels. Cacao does contain a little bit of caffeine, but it's very minimal when in comparison to coffee (a 28 gram bar contains 1-4% of the amount of caffeine as a 10 oz cup of coffee).
Cacao Is A Nutrient Powerhouse:
Raw cacao is the highest plant-based source of iron.
Raw cacao is chock-full of antioxidants, which can help lower your risk of cancers and other diseases, as well as slow aging.
Raw cacao contains 40 times more antioxidants per 100g than blueberries.
Raw cacao is super rich in calcium.
Raw cacao is a great source of flavanols for brain health.
Raw cacao is chock-full of essential minerals.
Raw cacao has about 5 grams per ounce of protein, and 9 grams of fiber.
Nutritional table for 1 ounce of raw organic cacao powder:
- Calories – 120
- Calories from fat – 23
- Total fat – 2.5g (4% DV)
- Saturated fat – 1.5g (7% DV)
- Sodium – 20mg (1% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates – 19.0g (6% DV)
- Dietary fiber – 7.0g (28% DV)
- Protein – 5g
- Calcium – 4% DV
- Iron – 16% DV
- Vitamin A – 0%
- Vitamin C – 0%
Mineral table for 1 ounce of cacao powder:
Here at the Phoenix Aurelius Research Academy, we love mixing some organic raw cacao powder into our morning elixirs, and savoring some delectable raw cacao bars from time to time. We have also have made an experimental Spagyric extraction of organic Bolivian Cacao masa that came from our good friend and chocolatier of Sacred Summit Chocolates, Dario Barone. There is more research to be done regarding how many nutrients get transferred over from the Cacao masa into a Spagyric Tincture once it is finished, but we do have our tasty Cacao Masa Spagyric Tincture available in our Apothecary for you to try.
Regardless how you choose to incorporate raw cacao into your diet, it is a wonderful friend to your overall wellness, and it is worth having in your life!
The Attraction Of Raw Cacao. Medicinal-FoodsTM. Accessed July 19, 2022. https://medicinal-foods.com/cacao/raw/
Raw Vs Roasted Cacao - #1 Reason Why We Love Raw Cacao. Published October 6, 2020. Accessed July 19, 2022. https://cacaonow.ca/raw-vs-roasted/
Henderson JS, Joyce RA, Hall GR, Hurst WJ, McGovern PE. Chemical and archaeological evidence for the earliest cacao beverages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2007;104(48):18937-18940. doi:10.1073/pnas.0708815104
Davis G. Cacao Nutritional Facts : The Food of the Gods. Accessed July 22, 2022. https://healthyy.net/superfoods/cacao-nutritional-facts