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The health benefits of cacao

Written by Adelle Rutch | Monday, 11 April 2022


If anyone needs a further excuse to eat some raw chocolate this Easter (or all year round, within moderation), here’s a little background about the health benefits of cacao!

Cacao is made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree which is native to South America. Theobroma is Greek for ‘Food of the Gods’, and rightly so, because these little seeds are what form the basis of chocolate!

Cacao is steeped in tradition, particularly in Mayan culture where it has been used as both food and as a form of currency. Maybe this is why consuming raw chocolate can feel so indulgent?

There are many, MANY health benefits to the very popular cacao, making it a true ‘superfood’ and a very good ingredient to have on hand. Interestingly, cacao retains its health benefits due to minimal or low-temperature processing. Here are some of the reasons cacao is so great (and delicious):

Cacao is rich in B group vitamins, known for helping cognitive function, energy levels and overall cellular health.

Cacao is a great source of magnesium, a very needed mineral in the body and one that is quite easily depleted. Magnesium is necessary for calcium absorption, energy metabolism, protein synthesis, neurotransmitter function, as well as strong teeth, bones and healthy muscles.

Cacao is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are required to reduce damage to free radicals (oxygen-containing molecules) within the body which causes oxidative stress and age-related degeneration.

Cacao contains theobromine, kind of like caffeine but a little less intense. Those sensitive to caffeine may tolerate this better. Theobromine can help to support cognition and may also support sleep quality and cardiovascular health.

Cacao can make you feel good. It contains tryptophan (our precursor to serotonin) and phenylethylamine (PEA), which can release endorphins, our feel-good, happy hormones! It’s also a well-known aphrodisiac, making cacao an all-round feel-good food.

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Adelle Rutch

Adelle is a nutritional medicine student who shares her tips on clean, green, eco-friendly living. She is also the author of the Green Living Guide eBook.

Read more by Adelle Rutch