Bliss Out on Natures Most Powerful Superfood
Raw Cacao – Nature’s Most Powerful Superfood
During my travels in 2016 to Guatemala and Peru, I became very interested in cacao – not to be confused with the chocolate bar you buy at the store. I am talking about real, raw cacao in its most pure and potent form. Cacao is said to be nature’s most powerful superfood benefiting the body, mind, heart and soul.
Containing the highest concentrated levels of antioxidants than any other whole food on the planet, cacao by weight contains more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates and goji berries combined. One of the things that makes cacao so unique as a superfood, is the varying biochemicals that it contains, all of which speak to different functions in the body.
Bring On the Bliss: Anandamide
In Sanskrit, ananda means ‘bliss’, making anandamide the ‘bliss’ chemical. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter found naturally in the brain, which when released leaves us feeling happy and euphoric. Coincidently, it is also found in cacao.
That Good, Good Feelin’: Serotonin
Serotonin has long been known as the ‘feel good’ chemical that increases our mood and ability to fend off stress. Found both naturally in the body as well as in Cacao, which boosts the levels of serotonin that as females drops dramatically when we experience PMS. Magnesium and tryptophan, both necessary chemicals for the production of serotonin are also contained in raw cacao. Tryptophan is needed to maintain sufficient levels of serotonin and restore feelings of well being.
Feel the Love: Phenylethylamine
Phenylethylamine, otherwise known as PEA, is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body when we fall in love and you guessed it — is also found in cacao! The presence of PEA in cacao and its effect on the brain is one of the main reasons cacao is associated with lovers and given and a gift in the form of chocolate on Valentines Day. PEA is also heat-sensitive and only found in raw, unprocessed and cooked cacao. Fun fact: the only other food on earth that contains PEA is blue-green algae.
Supercharge Your Energy: Theobromine
Theobromine is the molecule in chocolate that is similar to caffeine but is much milder due to its molecular make up. It stimulates the heart, relaxes muscles and has been used to treat high blood pressure. While it promotes energy in the body, its effects are not felt by the central nervous system resulting in a more gentle, subdued feel-good type of energy.
Fountain of Youth: Polyphenol Antioxidants & Flavonols
Polyphenol antioxidants founds in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants as green tea and red wine and they protect our cells and keep us looking and feeling younger, longer. Flavonols are anti-inflammatory, heart protective antioxidants found in raw cacao. They may protect against cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of stroke and help improve blood circulation. With heart disease and stroke the leading cause of death for Canadian women, why not add a little cacao to your diet?
While raw cacao won’t take care of the sweet cravings the same way a chocolate bar would, you might be surprised at the longer lasting positive effects cacao has on your mood (bye-bye sugar crash!) as well as your body.