Oh Chocolate, how I love thee. What a wonderful medicine.
Theobroma cacao is the tree that chocolate comes from. The genus, Theobroma, literally means “food of the gods”. The Mayans and Aztecs both thought of cacao as a gift from the gods.
If you are as much of a dark chocolate fan as I am, you would likely agree with that.
Why is dark chocolate and raw cacao so coveted and enjoyable? Several reasons.
- Cacao is a nutritious superfood that contains notable amounts of several minerals including magnesium. We can all use more magnesium in our diets as it is so depleted in our food supply.
- Cacao is high in polyphenols/antioxidants.
- Cacao contains B-vitamins as well as A, C and E.
- Cacao contains theobromine. Theobromine has a similar effect to caffeine, only weaker. It has stimulant and relaxing effects.
- Cacao contains PEA or phenethylamine. PEA is the neurotransmitter of love that influences serotonin and dopamine. It is a natural stimulant and mood enhancer. It also has an impact on pain.
- Cacao contains Anandamide. Anadamide is the bliss molecule. It binds the endocannabanoid system and plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility, to name a few.
I suggest people choose the darkest chocolate that they can tolerate (many need to start at 60% and work their way up to over 80%, where the real health benefits are.) At lower percentages of cacao the chocolate will contain too much sugar, so over 70% is necessary and over 80% is preferred. I go for 88-90% or higher. Choose an ethically-sourced cacao that is fairly traded and organic when possible.
1-3 small squares after a meal will often shut down cravings. I use this dose in the afternoon as a little “brain spark” and pick-me-up to keep me going through the afternoon. Add a little pinch of salt and you have a nice afternoon boost. I have my entire staff on this program and it keeps us running during long days in the clinic.
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