Mood Lifting Cacao ~ Not Your Fathers Hot Chocolate
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.