Four Sigma Foods 101 – Cacao
Cacao’s scientific name, Theobroma, means “food of the gods.” Many American cultures have used this amazing food as part of their daily diets for centuries. The first known people to use cacao were the Olmecs, who lived in south-central Mexico nearly 4,000 years ago. It was the Olmecs who originated the name “cacao.” Mayan cultures also used great amounts of cacao, especially for shamanistic purposes and as a part of various rituals. When the Mayan culture collapsed, the Aztecs adopted their traditional uses of cacao. The English word “chocolate” comes from Nahuatl language of the Aztecs: “xocolatl,” which means “bitter water.” Cacao beans were even used as money in Mexico City, as recently as 1887.
Raw cacao is one of the world’s most nutrient-dense and complex foods. It contains more than 1,200 active ingredients, and 10% of its dry weight consists of antioxidants.
While most American cultures used cacao as a medicinal food, Europeans turned it into an unhealthy confection, milk chocolate, by adding refined sugar and milk powder.
Why to Use Cacao
Raw cacao is one of the world’s most nutrient-dense and complex foods. It contains more than 1,200 active ingredients, and 10% of its dry weight consists of antioxidants. In fact, cacao contains a greater volume of antioxidants than blueberry, goji berry, açai berry, red wine and pomegranate combined. Cacao is also a rich source of magnesium, iron, chromium, sulfur, copper and zinc.
Probably the most unique properties of cacao are those related to the functions of the brain, and feelings of well-being.
Chemical compounds in cacao such as anandamide, theobromine, phenethylamine (PEA), magnesium and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) affect the mind and body and can reportedly lead to feelings of being “high” – though not in the sense of being intoxicated or impaired.
How to Use Cacao
It is absolutely important to use high-quality, raw cacao. Avoid cheap milk chocolate from the shop next door. One can add cacao beans to trail mix, smoothies and raw-food recipes, or make raw chocolate.
Like many other beans, cacao contains tiny amounts of alkaloids and toxins, which are the beans’ way of protecting themselves from dangers. This just means that it’s a good idea to avoid eating too much cacao at one time.
Many people think they are allergic to cacao, when actually other ingredients in the chocolate they are eating (such as milk powder, in milk chocolate) are causing the allergic reaction.
Find more information about Cacao from our ebook Sovereign Superfoods.
Where to Buy Cacao
Cacao products can be bought from most health food and natural food stores throughout North America, Western Europe and some parts of Asia. We recommend the following cacao products.
Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Powder | A quality brand with first-class product
Amazon US (Affiliate*): Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Powder
Amazon US: Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Powder
*Affiliate program link: Product costs the same to you but FSF gets a percentage of the sales to bring more healthy products to you.