This is Woman’s week or is it month? Let’s celebrate this month with Chocolate!
Happy Women’s Day on 9 August.
Most women love Chocolate, but did you know the Latin name for the Cacao tree is Theobroma Cacao and Theobroma means “food of the gods” in Greek. In ancient Central America the raw cacao bean was used as currency and was a precious commodity. When the Spanish arrived in Central America, they called it ‘black gold’ and having Cacao meant you were wealthy!
In this write up, when I talk “chocolate”, I am talking purely about the RAW Cacao powder/ beans /nibs and not the supermarket variety which has added dairy and sugar. Yes, I know raw cacao it is extremely bitter, but as with most good things, you only need a little. It was when ‘they’ added sugar that it became bad.
So what is it that makes the raw cacao “good”? Firstly, it is very high in magnesium (14g of raw cacao gives you 92,000mg of Magnesium!) Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral in the western diet and yet it is one of the most important. Heart health is dependent on magnesium as it increases the overall vigour of the heart muscle and the heart contains up to 10x more magnesium than any other organ in the body. Magnesium lowers blood pressure which in turn helps the heart pump more effectively. Together with calcium, sodium and potassium, magnesium affects the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle contraction.
The cacao bean is also super rich in antioxidant flavonols – containing 10,000mg per 100g. This makes cacao one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food. Studies have been conducted which show that by adding dairy to this Superfood specifically blocks the absorption of all the great antioxidants in the real raw cacao!
A Natural Anti-Depressant! That’s right…. sit-up and take note! Cacao is a great source of serotonin, dopamine and phenethylamine (PEA), three well-studied neurotransmitters which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of wellbeing. Cacao also contains B vitamins which are associated with mood, energy and brain health. NO WONDER you want to grab the slab when you are feeling down or low ~ The body is amazingly engineered to let you know exactly what it needs, when it needs it! Sadly we have spoiled the real thing by adding preservatives, sugars, dairy and other “unpronounceables” to the real raw cacao bean!
It is Energy Boosting! Another reason you grab the slab late afternoon! Raw cacao is rich in blood oxygenating iron and manganese, which are key energising minerals.
Cacao powder has a strong rich, dark, bitter chocolate flavour; use it by adding it to your smoothie in the morning or in your pre- or post workout drink. You could add the nibs to your granola or trail mix or sprinkle it over your slow-cooked breakfast oats.
The picture above is a pod of cacao beans. A pod can contain up to 50 cacao beans and is surrounded by sweet, white fruit flesh. The pods are removed from the tree and carefully cut open and the beans are extracted. The beans are then left to ferment for a few days and during the fermentation, the bitterness of the bean is reduced to the rich chocolate flavour we have come to love. The beans are then dried and either used whole, cracked into nibs or ground to form the powder to be used to make the slab, as a drink or in your smoothie.
[Extracts from: The Magic of Superfoods by Peter & Beryn Daniel & from: Eating for Beauty by David Wolfe]