15 Really Good Reasons To Eat Cacao. (As if you needed even one.)

There’s a lot to love about chocolate.

Cacao improves your mood, protects your heart, boosts immunity and gives you energy to burn. It really is a superfood worth enjoying regularly and without guilt.

 

Raw cacao offers amazing health benefits for your entire body.

Read on for 15 really good reasons why high-quality dark chocolate and raw cacao are an important, healthy addition to your diet.

 

 hand selecting a chocolate piece

 

1. Find Your Bliss With Cacao

Cacao contains the mood improver anandamide.  Known as the “bliss molecule”, anandamide creates a feeling of euphoria and overall well-being.  Cacao also contains feel-good chemicals Tryptophan and Theobromine that act as nature's anti-depressants.

 

2. Get Zen With Cacao

Cacao boosts brain levels of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. This is helpful for women when serotonin levels drop dramatically during monthly cycles. The benefits of cacao are proven to boost the brain levels of calming hormones and restore feelings of well-being.

 

3. Cacao Puts You "In The Mood" For Love

PEA, or phenethylamine, is a mood-enhancing compound found in cacao. PEA triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals. Released naturally when we fall in love and during sexual activity, these chemicals are thought to improve libido.

 

hot chocolate

4. Cacao May Improve (or Maintain) Brain Function

Cacao appears to improve cognitive function and prevents Alzheimer’s. 

Scientists at Harvard Medical School have suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.

The researchers found that hot chocolate helped improve blood flow to parts of the brain where it was needed.

Results of a lab experiment, published in 2014, indicated that a cocoa extract, called lavado, might reduce or prevent damage to nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This extract could help slow symptoms such as cognitive decline.

Another study, published in 2016 in the journal Appetite, suggests eating chocolate at least once weekly could improve cognitive function.


5. Guard Your Heart With Cacao

Flavanols are an anti-inflammatory and heart-protective antioxidant group found in cacao. Studies show they can protect against cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of stroke, and help improve blood circulation. Cacao contains over 700 compounds and the complex antioxidants found in it known as polyphenols help reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent hardening of the arteries.

Research published in The BMJ, suggests that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one-third.

Canadian scientists, in a study involving 44,489 individuals, found that people who ate one serving of chocolate were 22 percent less likely to experience a stroke than those who did not. Also, those who had about two ounces of chocolate a week were 46 percent less likely to die from a stroke

One study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, suggests that chocolate consumption might help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, also known as “bad cholesterol.”

 

6. A Natural Blood Thinner

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University, USA found that eating a little bit of dark chocolate each day could be reduce your chances of developing a blood clot.  They found dark chocolate helps thin the blood in a way similar to aspirin.

 

dark chocolate bar and powder


7. Improve Your Gut With Cacao

Cocoa and its products are rich sources of polyphenols such as flavanols. These compounds exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, accountable for cocoa health-promoting effects. 

Studies show, once reaching the intestine, cocoa polyphenols interact bidirectionally with the gut microbiota. These compounds can modulate the composition of the gut microbiota exerting prebiotic mechanisms. They enhance the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, while reducing the number of pathogenic ones.


A study headed by Francois-Pierre J Martin of Nestle Research Center in Switzerland found strong evidence that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate over a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify gut microbial metabolism.

 

8. Get A Natural Energy Boost From Cacao

Dark chocolate is fairly high in magnesium, with 176 mg in a 100 g serving.
Magnesium helps adjust blood glucose levels, and aids in the production of energy and protein.  Mineral-rich cacao energizes the body without overstimulating the nervous system, providing long-lasting energy.
Combat fatigue with one of the highest concentrations of magnesium found in a natural food source.

 

9. Athletic Performance

Findings published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggest that a little dark chocolate might boost oxygen availability during fitness training.
Researchers who studied cyclists doing time trials in the United Kingdom found that “After eating dark chocolate, the riders used less oxygen when cycling at a moderate pace and also covered more distance in a two-minute flat-out time trial.”
The scientists believe that the success of dark chocolate in this case is that it contains flavonols known as epicatechins, which enhance the release of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide production is essential for overall health because it allows blood, nutrients and oxygen to travel to every part of your body effectively and efficiently.

 

hot cacao

10. Cacao - It's A Beauty Food

Sulfur has a significant impact on our complexion, hair and nails. It has the ability to continuously build and rebuild collagen and keratin which is important for shiny hair, clear skin and strong nails. Get gorgeous with this great source of sulfur. 

 

11. Get Glowin’ With Cacao

Here's a good reason to add some raw cacao powder to your morning smoothie:
A 2016 trial by the Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University Boramae Hospital concluded that regular cocoa flavanol consumption had positive effects on facial wrinkles, skin elasticity and hydration.
Participants in the study consumed 320 mg total cocoa flavanols per day. Results at baseline, 12 weeks and 24 weeks measured the percentage change in the average roughness value of the facial skin of the cocoa consumers vs. those who received a placebo.  Final thoughts: drinking cocoa flavanols promotes smoother skin.

 

12. Cacao Helps To Prevent Signs Of Premature Aging

Polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao protect our cells from premature oxidation and can keep us looking and feeling younger. These antioxidants are similar to anthocyanins (found in dark colored fruits) and catechins (found in green tea).

 

 smoothies with cacao

13. Raw Cacao Protects Your Skin From UV Light

Eating raw cacao can significantly protect the skin from UV light.
A 2009 study by scientists at London University of the Arts found participants who ate 20 grams of cacao for 12 weeks were able to stay in the sun for twice as long as those who didn’t, without getting sunburned. The study concluded that regular consumption of a chocolate rich in flavanols confers significant photoprotection and can thus be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects.

 

14. Eating Cacao May Help Protect You Against Skin Cancer

German scientists at Institut für Experimentelle Dermatologie, Universität Witten-Herdecke found that dietary antioxidants contribute to endogenous photoprotection and are important for the maintenance of skin health.
Their 12 week study concluded that the ingestion of high flavanol cacao may protect against harmful UV rays that cause cancer. Dietary flavanols from cacao contribute to sunlight protection and improve dermal blood circulation, hydration and the appearance of the skin's surface.


15. Cacao Fights Tooth Decay.  That’s Right.

A study from Tulane University discovered that an extract of cacao powder was even more effective than fluoride in preventing cavities.

The key to cocoa’s dental benefits, according to Arman Sadeghpour, PhD,  is a substance called theobromine.  A water-insoluble, bitter crystalline powder, theobromine is an alkaloid of the cacao plant, and is therefore found in chocolate along with teas and other foods. Theobromine helps harden tooth enamel, making teeth less susceptible to decay.

Okay, okay.  So a chocolate bar isn't going to replace your toothbrush.  But, scientists are speculating that theobromine will one day replace flouride in our toothpaste.

 

 dark chocolate bar chopped

 Photos @unsplash and @pexels

References are linked within the list.

Anecdote Cherry Wine Hemp Tincture Cacao+Damiana blends creamy raw cacao with adaptogenic damiana leaf and full spectrum hemp for a mood boosting CBD formula. 

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