For years, I believed chocolate contained caffeine.. and sometimes when someone tells me it does, I almost start to believe them lol! Though I quickly remind myself that no, cacao/chocolate doesn't contain caffeine naturally, it contains a very similar looking compound called theobromine!
Caffeine and theobromine are both alkaloids. Cacao beans usually contain about 1% theobromine. Theobromine is an effective anti-bacterial, able to kill the bacterial that cause cavities! Theobromine opens up your blood vessels, increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart and brain.
Like caffeine, theobromine blocks adenosine receptors. Which increases alertness. Though to a much lesser extent than caffeine. Theobromine has also been identified as one of the compounds contributing to chocolate's reputed role as an aphrodisiac.
Cacao has been a beloved treat and sought after ingredient for years. Dating back to 600 AD! In fact, cacao was so highly revered it was even used as currency! Love it!
Let us remind ourselves of all the wonderful benefits associated with this truly exotic Amazonian cacao bean!
Cacao is one of the highest food sources of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential alkalising mineral, it benefits the musculoskeletal system (relaxing our muscles), benefits the nervous system (calming), builds strong bones and teeth and is essential for many other functions.
Cacao is a rich source of iron, containing 7.3 mg per 100 g. That's 1 mg of iron per serving (2 tablespoons). Compared to beef and lamb; 2.5 mg per serving and spinach; 1.8 mg per serving. Iron is essential for healthy oxygen levels in the blood. Fatigue, depression, breathlessness, hair loss and pallor are all signs of low iron levels.
Chromium is an important trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar.
Cacao seems to diminish appetite and encourage weight loss naturally
Most likely due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) - allowing feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine to circulate in the brain for longer!
Phenethylamine is found in abundance in cacao beans. Because PEA is heat sensitive, much of the PEA in conventional cooked and processed chocolate is missing. PEA is the adrenal-related chemical that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love. This is likely one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep connection. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.
The flavonols found in chocolate help the body to produce nitric oxide, a compound essential for proper heart function.
Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical)
A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. It makes us feel good! Cacao increases the level of anandamide in our brain by blocking its breakdown, as well as adding cacao-sourced-anandamide to make us feel good for longer!
Raw cacao contains vitamin C, a powderful antioxidant and regenerator of other antioxidants. Vitamin C is essential for healthy immune function, the growth of; collagen, gums and teeth, capillaries and wound healing.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid important for our stress-protective neurotransmitters including serotonin and melatonin. Raw cacao contains 33% more tryptophan than heated cocoa.
This is a big one! Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. These antioxidants include polyphenols, catechins, and epicatechins. By weight, Cacao beans have more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries COMBINED. Antioxidants keep you looking young and help fight disease.
Manganese assists iron in the oxygenation of the blood and formation of haemoglobin, the formation of connective tissue, bones,hormonal production, as well as fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation!
Zinc plays a critical role in immune system function, enzyme function, liver, pancreas, and skin health.
So there you have it! Cacao is ahhhhmazing! Getting your chocolate fix doesn't have to be laden with sugar and processed fats! Raw organic cacao powder is the best (raw cacao powder contains about seven times as many antioxidants as cooked cacao powder, that's about 723% more!). ...it's all good to love chocolate ;) xx