Oh, sweet Casanova, there are rumors going around that you actually liked chocolate way back in the 18th century. Is it true? If so, you’ve already won me over with your sense of taste. xoxo
Raw Cacao powder: A rather functional food.
I mean who doesn’t love chocolate? It’s one of the most popular treats in the entire world and known as the food of love. I’m sure you may have also heard it’s actually quite good for your body. I should clarify that I’m not talking about a Hershey bar, Nestle Quick, or even the box your boyfriend used to give you on Valentine’s day, but chocolate that’s closer to its original form. 70% dark chocolate or greater is where it really starts to get functional, and even better than that, Raw cacao powder.
Raw cacao powder is a nutrient rich cocoa powder that’s made from the edible parts of the beans and pods of the cacao bean and has been used as a medicine for the last 3000 years. Cacao beans were actually treated as currency in early South American civilizations because their medicinal and aphrodisiacal effects made them so valuable. There are even rumors that the great Casanova was pretty excited about them.
Here’s what makes it so desirable
Antioxidant Power: Polyphenols & Flavonoids
Antioxidants zap free radicals out of the body. Free radicals can happen no matter how good we take care of ourselves. Air pollution, chemicals, sun exposure, radiation, and processed foods can do a number on the body, so it’s up to our antioxidant heros (cacao being one) to really step up and help escort them out of the body so our cells are less susceptible to illnesses like cancer.
Vitamins & Minerals
Along with protein, calcium, B vitamins, and trace minerals, chocolate contains a nice amount of magnesium (my favorite mineral), which supports the nervous system and the cardiovascular system.
The love bean
Turns out Casanova was totally onto something. Chocolate contains hundreds of compounds, (along with a medium sized burst of caffeine) that whisper to the brain…."I’m in love”. A brand new study done at Cambridge University examined brain scans before and after eating chocolate and found it activates the pleasure centers of the brain, mostly because of the texture and taste it provides.
Chocolate also releases neurotransmitters, potentially serotonin, that are linked to feelings of well being.
The heart’s food: literally
Cacao is extremely promising in its fight against inflammation. Inflammation is the primary cause of disease, especially heart disease. When a food is anti-inflammatory, it can help support all systems of the body by reducing blood pressure, reducing C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation in the body that should be checked regularly if you or anyone in your family are at risk for heart disease), and improving the overall function of the blood vessels.
And my favorite story…
Air pollution & kids! wait...WHAT?
We all know pollution is toxic, but did you know it can also negatively affect the brain? According to Dr Walter J Crinnion, ND and expert in environmental medicine, air pollution can fuel neuroinflammation as it increases amyloid deposits and protein formation in the brain resulting in symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s.
A study was done by physician Calderon-Garciduenas with children living in the metropolitan area of Mexico city and she found that children near the highest levels of exhaust had decreased cognitive function (including attention, memory and IQ) and other symptoms consistent with memory disorders like Alzheimer’s.
But wait for it….
She gave them chocolate and...
Based on 30 grams of cacao daily (680mg of flavonoids) for 10 days, the children showed signs of improved memory function which demonstrated that these polyphenol compounds can indeed prevent neurological damage.
So if you live in a major city like I do, you might want to think about chocolate a little more often, just be sure it's of good quality. We use Healthworks or Nativas Naturals for smoothies and all my baking.
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