“Western culture has fallen in love with this most amazing substance. Yet, for most of us, it has been a blind date all along. After all, what is chocolate? Where does it come from? The key to chocolate’s super qualities seems to be eating it in its raw, natural state as a cacao bean! When cacao beans are excessively heated, melted, processed, chemicalised and added to dairy products, they lose key nutrient qualities of texture, psychoactive properties, brain nutrition & more. Other properties of the cacao bean are still present yet diminished by cooking, such as dark chocolate flavours, antioxidants, aphrodisiac qualities, mood elevation and others.” - David Wolfe
Cacao has the gift to give access to Mother Nature’s herbal pharmacy
acting as a catalyst for many herbs and plants.
*Credit: David Wolfe ‘Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future’
Cacao is the most complex food on Earth. It contains a number of ingredients that have a positive effect on the mind and body. Raw Cacao is nature's most magical superfood due to its mineral content and nutrients, formed of some 600-1.200 individual chemical components. Like all superfoods, cacao blurs the line between food and medicine.
Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants and magnesium of any food in the world. Raw Cacao is rich in zinc, chromium, theobromine, vitaminC, iron, copper, tryptophan, manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, serotonin, and more. Cacao is a highly effective natural energy enhancer and is used with great popularity by raw foodists & superfood lovers.
Cacao contains PEA, a chemical that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love. PEAs also play a role in increasing focus and alertness. Anandamide is an endorphin that the human body naturally produces after exercise. Anandamide is known as the bliss chemical as it is released while we are feeling joy. It has only been found in one plant - Cacao.
per 100 grams:
3.6 g H2O
12.0 g protein
46.3 g fat (typically 40 to 50 grams, but sometimes as low as 12 grams)
34.7 g total carbohydrate
8.6 g fiber
106 mg calcium
537 mg phosphorus
3.6 mg Fe (iron)
0.17-0.24 mg thiamine
0.14-0.41 mg riboflavin
*Credit David Wolfe Naked Chocolate
We look at some of the key nutrients such as magnesium, theobromine & caffeine, tryptophan, anandamide, phenylethylamine (PEA), antioxidants, serotonin and monoamine oxidase (MAO) in detail. Read the article Cacao - What's in it?
Originally the cacao plant comes from Central & South America. However, it can be found spread along the whole equatorial belt. It grows within about 20 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator. This is called the 20/20 zone.
Cacao loves well drained soils with a high content of organic matter and grows best in the shade of larger trees. Each cacao tree delivers a specific composition of nutrients, depending on the soil, the climate and the trees that are neighbouring cacao. 21° C is the ideal temperature with constant high humidity. Cacao prefers to grow in the shade of larger trees such as coconut, banana, and avocado, which protect it from too much sun and wind. It goes along well with avocado trees, mango trees, bananas, coconut palms, coffee, pineapple trees and durian. Permaculture and diversity is naturally encouraged by cacao.
The main growing area of cacao, especially for large-scale chocolate production, is now Western Africa. Historically, the shift of the main growing area from the Americas to West Africa coincides with the abolition of slavery. Since the slaves could no longer be brought from Africa to America, the cacao was brought to the areas of their homeland, to continue the production of cheap cacao for Europe under forced labour conditions. Read more in Global Market.
Partial inflorescence of Theobroma cacao (after Ronse De Craene). Floral formula: ✶ K5 C5 A(5°+5²) G(5)