The Health Secrets of Dark Chocolate

| May 15, 2015

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The word “chocolate” is derived from the Aztec word chocolātl, which means “food of the gods.” We’ve preserved this phrase in the species name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao (theo means “god” and broma means “food”).

The cacao tree has been one of the planet’s most well-loved plants for ages. Long before the days of Hershey’s and Nestle, chocolate was a commodity valued on par with currency—Spanish traders even called it “black gold.”

The Aztecs hit the nail on the head with this one. While it’s difficult to find anything healing about modern milk chocolate bars, buried beneath all that sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and toxic milk is a superfood of unparalleled potency.

Freed of all the unhealthy additives with which it’s usually combined, cacao is a veritable panacea (especially when synergized with other superfoods—which we’ll talk about later in this article).

The world’s tastiest way to cleanse the body

Chocolate is well-known for its antioxidant capacity. Even processed cacao powder (or dark chocolate over 70%) boasts an impressive antioxidant profile.

  • Cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants. However, it was thought that these molecules were poorly digested and absorbed due to their large size
  • New research revealed that your gut bacteria breaks down and ferments the components in dark chocolate, turning them into anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit your health
  • Beneficial gut microbes including Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria “feasted” on chocolate, creating anti-inflammatory compounds that may reduce inflammation of cardiovascular tissue
  • A wide range of accumulating scientific research has linked chocolate consumption to over 40 distinct health benefits

But the real magic happens with raw, unprocessed cacao—this miraculous powder contains over 300 compounds that enliven, heal, and supercharge the body. It contains up to 86% more antioxidants than processed cacao or dark chocolate, and 20 times the antioxidants of blueberries.[1]

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It’s even packed with protein, an ideal balance of calcium and magnesium, sulfur, carotene, and other health-supporting vitamins and minerals.

All these healing and balancing compounds make raw cacao powerfully anti-inflammatory and immune boosting. It’s been shown to help with joint and muscle pain, decrease the incidence of illness, lower LDL cholesterol, improve heart function, and reduce cancer risk.

And the best part? It makes you feel amazing.

Mother Nature’s perfect feel-good food

There’s nothing better than a food that is amazing for your health and makes you feel awesome. Perhaps this is why the Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gifts of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom.

Chocolate already has a reputation for the blissful mood it can induce, but raw cacao takes things to another level entirely. It contains much higher levels of theobromine, phenethylamine, and anandamide, all of which are easily destroyed by the high-heat processing used to prepare cacao for use in chocolate.  

Theobromine is a cardiovascular stimulant. Unlike caffeine, which taxes the adrenal system and results in a nasty crash, theobromine provides long-lasting, sustainable energy by strengthening the heart, dilating blood vessels, and increasing blood flow.

The result is a warm rush of vitality and well-being that permeates the whole body, and a pleasant mental stimulation that makes the mind as sharp as a tack. These effects (and more) make theobromine an excellent treatment for depression, fatigue, and brain fog.

This sustainable stimulation is improved even more by phenethylamine—which triggers the release of the dopamine, norepinephrine, and feel-food endorphins—and anandamide—which is the chemical responsible for the “runner’s high” (the root word anand means “bliss” in Sanskrit).

And here’s the kicker: the blood flow and metabolism stimulation triggered by these chemicals ensures that all of raw cacao’s healing antioxidants are pushed deep into the body’s tissues and absorbed optimally. Keeping your body and mind in tip-top shape has never felt so good.

But here’s the one catch: finding the right source of raw cacao can be tricky.     

Finding the ideal source of raw cacao

You won’t get all of the benefits listed above just by chowing down on chocolate. Most commercial chocolate products are chocked full of sugar and other health-sapping additives, and they very rarely use raw, unprocessed cacao.

You even need to be careful with raw cacao powder. Large plantations leave cacao beans fermenting outside for days, during which time they can pick up toxic molds that end up contaminating their final product.

Only select micro-plantations take the necessary precautions by fermenting their high-quality cacao beans in a clean, indoor environment.

You’ll never look at chocolate the same way again…and you’ll come to understand just how accurate the phrase “food of the gods” really is.



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Category: Body, Healthy Living, Natural Health

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