Growing up Hot Chocolate was a fixture in my house - we drank a huge steaming mug nearly every night. What's not to like? A warming, satiating and activating drink that hits the sweet tooth. Of course then, I had no idea that what I was guzzling was loaded with chemicals that are a far cry from the heart medicine that is properly sourced and crafted chocolate and it's parent (mother?) cacao.
Before I get too deep into cacao, it's important to note that this is a stimulate and postpartum mothers should be aware of this. Mamas - this is still plant medicine at its tastiest but watch the portion. Answering the sweet tooth in postpartum is important - at it's most basic level, it's a craving for something strengthening and fortifying. Additionally, it offers the highest amounts of antioxidants over any food in the world. Yes, read that last sentence again. This includes polyphenols, catechins, epicatechins. "By weight, Cacao beans have more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries COMBINED." The raw cacao bean from Central America (revered by the Aztecs and the Mayans) is what all real chocolate is made from. Known as the 'food of the Gods', it's actually a seed of a fruit!
According to Real Raw Food, the Cacao Beans contain these nutrients:
Magnesium: Cacao may be the highest source of Magnesium the relaxer mineral. Magnesium fights acid buildup, neutralizes toxins, calms sensitivity to pain, quiets nerves, builds strong bones and teeth and is essential for many other functions. Over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium
Iron: Cacao beans contain about 20% of the U.S. RDA of iron per 1 ounce (28 gram) serving. Iron is a critical mineral in nutrition. Iron is part of the oxygen carrying protein called hemoglobin that keeps our blood healthy.
Chromium: Chromium is an important trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar. Nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in this trace mineral. Chromium plays a significant role in detoxifying the liver from alcohols which build up during the fermentation process of sugars and starches when we overeat or make bad food choices. It has a major influence on blood cleanse.
Caffeine and theobromine. There is a persistent urban legend that Chocolate contains caffeine. It would seem that this rumor is based primarily on a confusion between two similar alkaloids: caffeine and Theobromine. Theobromine is the active ingredient in Chocolate and it occurs only in Cacao. The two stimulants are related and have a similar structures, but are very different chemicals with different properties, effects and origins. There are of course, some Chocolate products that have added caffeine, but it does not occur naturally in Chocolate.
Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) - these are different from digestive enzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favourable results when consumed by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MAO inhibitors facilitate youth regeneration and rejuvenation. Encourages weight loss naturally.
Raw Cacao Powder has at least 33% more Arginine, the aphrodisiac-like amino acid believed by body builders to build muscle and aid in recovery.
Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical) - A neurotransmitter called anandamide, has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as "The Bliss Chemical" because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies' ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that natural anandamide and/or cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer, when we eat cacao.
Vitamin C: Cacao beans must be raw to contain vitamin C. All cooked and processed chocolate has no vitamin C. A one ounce (28 gram) serving of Cacao Beans supplies 21% of the U.S. RDA of Vitamin C.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids: Cacao beans contain essential omega 6 fatty acids when it is RAW.
Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is transformed into important stress-protective neurotransmitters including serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan is heat sensitive and therefore it is “cooked out” in many high protein foods and in conventional processed chocolate. At least 33% more when you use Raw Cacao.
Serotonin: Serotonin is the primary neurotransmitter in the human body. Serotonin is similar in its chemistry to tryptophan and melatonin. Serotonin helps us build up our “stress defense shield.”
Antioxidants: Antioxidants keep you looking young and help fight disease. ORAC antioxidant laboratory analysis confirms that there are over 25,200 antioxidants in a single spoonful of our raw cacao powder! Dark chocolate has been touted as a source of antioxidants, but this raw chocolate is way beyond that. Living proof that raw is better! Italian researchers found eating 100 grams of dark chocolate each day for 15 days lowered blood pressure in the 15-person study. The University of L'Aquila team also found the body's ability to metabolise sugar -- a problem for people with diabetes -- was improved. Because the effect was believed to be due to antioxidant levels, with Raw Cacao Powder we can likely multiply this effect. Dutch researchers indicate that dark chocolate contains four times the amount of catechin antioxidants than black tea, which is suspected of having a protective effect against heart disease and possibly cancer, due to its antioxidant properties. With Raw Cacao Powder, it would be 28 times more than Black Tea and potentially 7 times the protection!
Manganese: Manganese helps assist iron in the oxygenation of the blood and formation of hemoglobin. Interestingly, manganese is also concentrated in tears.
Zinc: Zinc plays a critical role in the immune system, liver, pancreas, and skin. Additionally, zinc is involved in thousands of enzymatic reactions throughout the human body.
Recipe for the Mood Lifting Drinking Cacao (for Two for sharesies):
2 1/2 Cups ...... Unsweetened milk (hemp, almond, coconut or raw)
2 Tbs ............... Raw, Organic Cacao Powder (or chunks)
2 Tbs ............... Pure Maple Syrup
1/8 Tsp ............ Vanilla
½ Tsp .............. Cinnamon
Pinch .............. Himalayan Salt
Add milk and cacao to a small pot and place over medium-low heat.
Bring to a low simmer, stirring (or whisking if using cacao powder) ingredients together
Once at a slow boil, remove from heat and mix in remaining ingredients.
Share with your loved one!
Optional adaptations in no particular order:
Add 1/2 Tbs of Ghee or Coconut oil for extra unctuousness.
For uber smooth drinking experience, after step 3, mix with a hand blender.
Add 1 Tsp of Moringa Powder or 1/2 Tsp of Chaga for deeper immune boosting