Health Benefits of Drinking Pure Chocolate
Not only is drinking chocolate delicious, it's extraordinarily healthy! Read our guide here or scroll down for FAQs.
With 300-1200 individual constituents, cacao is one of the most pharmacologically complex plant substances known to man. When consumed unsweetened or with very little sugar, it is a superfood, packed with beneficial minerals and neuro-chemicals that beneficially affect our state of mind. The mild bitterness of a ceremonial cacao drink can also serve to cleanse the liver or release emotions, and the alkaloid content of pure cacao boosts circulation and absorption of nutrients.
To best experience cacao, do not consume caffeine or alcohol six hours or more before consuming cacao. Drink abundant water the day before and the day of consuming cacao. Also be aware that many antidepressants do not mix with the monoamine oxidase inhibitors in raw cacao - consuming both could result in severe migraines.
Consuming cacao can replenish minerals vital to our body. Magnesium is chronically deficient in the majority of western diets, and cacao is the highest naturally occurring source. Magnesium is used in all key brain functions, especially memory and concentration. It is also beneficial for the function of the heart, acting to relax blood vessel and decrease strain. Besides magneisum, cacao is also the highest naturally occurring source of chromium, and also high in copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, sulfur, iron, and phosphorous.
Regularly working with unsweetened chocolate can have therapeutic health benefits, including creating new neural pathways that change our daily experience to include more joy, love, and connection. Cacao contains beneficial neurotransmitters and neuromodulators already present in our brain, most notably including:
Norepinephrine - the joy molecule
Serotonin - help with wellbeing, and creates resistence to stress. Cacao also has MOA inhibitors, that inhibit re-uptake of serotonin.
Dopamine - feelings of motivation and pleasure. Cacao also has MOA inhibitors, that inhibit re-uptake of dopamine.
Anandamine - the bliss molecule, it moderates pain, and is associated with the "runners high" effect. Cacao also has N-linoleoylethanolamine, the re-uptake inhibitor for anandamine.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) - helps with excitement, alertness, attention. Give the perception of time slows down.
Cacao also contains theobromine, an alkaloid in the methylxanthine class of compounds, which also contain caffeine, mateine, and more. Theobromine is a cardiac stimulant and it relaxes blood vessels, together producing an effect of 30-40% higher blood circulation. This improves absorption of other important nutrients in cacao or other superfoods that it is paired with. There is far more theobromine than caffeine in cacao - it is a misconception that cacao contains much caffeine, most likely due to a caffeine like energy rush from the cane sugar used to sweeten most chocolate bars. Theobromine is only about one quarter as stimulating as caffeine, and it has a much longer half life in the liver, meaning that it's affect on the body is softer and longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much cacao can I have? How much is too much? Will I feel something? Is there a difference between drinking/eating cacao?
We recommend starting with around 1oz of cacao per day, and not exceeding 2oz of cacao. Some people will have far less than 1oz and feel a profound effect from it, while others may not notice any effect with a full 2oz. Cacao has more than 300 compounds at work, so it works as far more than just a stimulant - it can be relaxing too, and have subtle effects that are not immediately noticeable. Please make sure to drink plenty of liquids to accompany a high dose of cacao. Regardless of whether you snack on the discs straight or use them to make a drinking chocolate, the effect should be similar from the same amount. However, we have found that it is easier to consume large amounts in liquid chocolate format.
What's the difference between cacao powder and cacao paste?
Cacao paste is a whole food, made from a single ingredient, cacao beans, that have been roasted, shelled, and ground down. Cacao powder is processed a few steps further, to remove the cacao butter from the cacao paste. While cacao powder is often marketed as a superfood, we've found cacao paste to be far more potent as it still contains the high grade cacao butter, which is the best carrier fat for the medicinal properties of cacao. The difference is clear - try making a cacao drink with just cacao powder and water (it doesn't taste very good) - and then try making a cacao drink just cacao paste and water, and you'll see how much more nutritive and nourishing the latter is.
Is your cacao raw? What are the maximum temperatures you use?
Since we carefully toast our cacao, as centuries of indigenous wisdom on working with cacao has taught us, it is not raw. Even though we embrace many raw food principles in our sourcing and ethics, we've found that cacao does quite well with a small amount of carefully applied heat. During our work with cacao it only briefly gets as hot as 150F, most of the rest of the time it stays at or below 115F. We really believe strongly that making good ceremonial cacao involves taking the cacao through a four element transformation as we work with it, including fire, air, earth, and water. So of course, we can't leave out the fire!
What is the health/environmental impact of the packaging you use?
The ziploc bags we use to package product are a BPA free #4 plastic, whose recyclability depends on the municipality. We've selected these bags to be durable, so that hopefully you'll get many re-uses out of them after the cacao has been enjoyed.
Have a question we didn't address here? Contact us and we'll happily help out.