We can never deny the fact that we love chocolates. Though many consider these sweets to be unhealthy and addictive, did you know that its raw ingredient — the cacao — is a super health food? That’s right; the cacao is the main ingredient in many chocolate brands today. The raw cacao is said to contain various substances that is healthy to the body — granting it the title of superfood by many health organizations.
History of Cacao
As with any popular fruit, there is always a story on how it came to be — same goes with cacao. The ancient Mayan civilization believed that the cacao is a gift from the gods. Even today, a festival is held every April to honor the god that introduced this wonder fruit to the world. Its scientific name, “Theobroma” means “Food of the Gods”. This fruit was also used as a form of currency by the Aztecs during the pre-Columbians Mesoamerican civilization.
There are 3 groups of this fruit and each has its own unique qualities, as well as its respective worth in today’s cocoa market. The Criollo group is practically the most rare and expensive of all the cacao family — a popular choice of the Mayan culture. The Criollo cacao is less bitter compared to its cousins and has a more aromatic texture that makes it a perfect choice for dark chocolate solutions.
The Forastero cacao makes up 80% of today’s chocolates. The tree itself is more adaptive and sturdier during cultivation, thus, making it a lot cheaper compared to Criollo due to the ease of production. Last, but not the least, is the Trinitario cacao. This group is a hybrid of both the Forastero and Criollo which makes about 10% of the world’s chocolates.
There are said to be more than 300 compounds in raw cacao, but the more popular ones with the most benefit to our bodies are as follows:
1. Magnesium – helps to develop stronger bones and used as a muscle relaxant;
2. Sulfur – helps for stronger nails and hair
3. Phenylethylamine (PEA) – is a chemical produced by our adrenalin glands that induces excitement. This chemical that is found in cacao increase our pulse rate and doubles body activity — helping us become focused and alert.
4. Anandamide – this chemical is also found in raw cacao that increases our alertness and causes us to feel excited; this chemical is often used by doctors to treat patients under the throes of depression.
Cacao As Antioxidant
Medical experts agree that cacao is one of the best antioxidants in the market today. Depending upon its cultivation, cacao yields 4 times as much antioxidant compounds found in other fruits, like Goji berries. But despite its anti-aging properties, eating too much cacao may cause some side-effects so its best if you ask a medical expert to help you come up with a proper dosage for it to avoid problems later on.