By Kali Pappas, Nutritionist and Blogger at Holistic Chick
I think it’s safe to say one can compare such a plant to having magical powers when you can make chocolate out of it, but it doesn’t stop there!
Dive deep into the ancient world of cacao with me and learn what makes this sacred plant so magical plus why you should be using it.
Cacao is one of the oldest words used today and has been desired across the globe for many centuries, most notably in ancient Mayan culture, where it was discovered and cultivated. Known as “food of the gods” — used specifically by the Mayan men as an elixir to maintain strength, energy and overall health. This plant is considered to be so nutritious that kings would drink up to 30 cups of cacao per day in order to reach optimal health.
More than a nutritious plant, cacao was so highly valued it was at one point used as a currency. Even more, cacao has an ancient history within the world of shamanism, as ceremonies were created using cacao to achieve inner healing by rebalancing energies and restoring health.
This is known as a cacao ceremony — “typically involving a communal gathering with a sacred circle, music and of course, ceremonial cacao. Enjoying ceremonial cacao can help you connect with your heart and be a gentle guide through transformational consciousness shifts.”
These ceremonies are still being practiced today, and shamanism remains one of the oldest forms of holistic healing practices.
Let’s talk about the health aspects of cacao! It’s considered a superfood, but what does being a superfood entail?
Superfoods are a specific group of nutritionally dense, whole foods that contain minimal calories while offering maximum nutrient benefit. These foods contain a variety of nutrients in high volume, from — antioxidants, to vitamins, minerals and healthy fats for example, known to improve overall health.
However, cacao exceeds these “superfood” requirements, and according to healthline contains many important health compounds that can improve the following conditions:
- May have cancer-protective properties
- May reduce high blood pressure by improving nitric oxide levels
- May lower your risk of heart attack and stroke
- Contains polyphenols which improve blood flow to your brain and brain function
- May improve mood and symptoms of depression by various means
- May aid in weight control in more than one way
- Contains flavanols which may improve symptoms of type 2 diabetes
- Theobromine and theophylline contents may help people with asthma
Cacao contains an abundance of nutrients that can improve brain function, mood, energy and overall health.
In order to reap these magical benefits, cacao needs to be used in its pure, raw form. Many traditional cocoa powders found today in stores such as Dutch processed are not as nutrient dense because of the high heat extraction process it undergoes, which destroys many of its valuable nutrients, therefore you always want to look at purchasing raw cacao powder or cacao nibs when shopping and remember: organic is always best!
Read your labels and do your research when looking for a high-quality brand to reap the full benefits of what cacao has to offer!