Power of Cacao

I’ve never been a big coffee drinker. Or really even caffeine in general. This past year I started branching out and testing how I feel after different amounts of sleep, various morning routines, and pre-workout energy options. One that I have stuck with is hot chocolate!

 

cacao bean

 

I noticed that Amazing Grass and other “superfood” drinks had cacao options. When I ran out of sample packs of those drinks, I found a container of pure cacao powder in my house. The next morning I tried simply adding a tablespoon of the powder into some hot water, mixing in a little cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I usually start my day with 20-36 oz of water before eating anything. This has been amazing for digestion, energy, and waking up refreshed. Adding cacao to the mix was a serious upgrade! I felt lighter, less hungry, and more awake during my morning conditioning/stretching routine.

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© Rich Crowder

Was this just a placebo? Is there any substantial research on this Amazonian bean? I looked into some articles on cacao, and the benefits are no secret.

 

High Levels of Iron and Manganese

Iron contributes to the process of transporting oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout our bodies. Iron also aids the conversion of blood sugar to energy. Cacao is the highest plant-based source of iron.

Manganese helps assist iron in the oxidation of blood.

One of the Highest Plant Sources of Magnesium

Speeds up the process of turning glucose into energy.

More Antioxidants Than Fruits

Published in the Chemistry Central Journal, raw cacao is a potent source of antioxidants.

Mood Elevator

Significant source of “Bliss Chemicals” – anandamide, dopamine, phenylethylamine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters make us feel great, for longer, when we consume cacao.

Appetite Suppressor

Contains rare oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO) that are most likely responsible for momentarily reduce ones apatite.

 

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Information for Raw Organic Cacao Powder

More cacao properties listed here: http://www.realrawfood.com/cacao-info

 

How much do we need to consume to gain health benefits?

One tablespoon – 12 calories – provides a substantial amount of selenium, copper and magnesium, as well as 5% of our recommended iron intake. One serving does not contain a substantial amount of vitamins. For the full article click here.

Are the antioxidants bioavailable?

Yes, but amounts are still debated

Are there side effects?

  • Addictive
  • Overconsumption may cause toxic build up in liver, agitate kidneys, and stress adrenal glands
  • Theobromine – related to caffiene, more mild. Excess consumption can cause irritability, insomnia, addiction. Overstimulation can lead to dependence.
  • Oxalic acid – interferes with calcium absorption
  • Toxins during processing – mold contamination in low quality, non organic brands

 

Recommendations

  • limit to ~ 1 tablespoon a day
  • As with many vitamins and herbs, don’t take every day, cycle on and off
  • Pay for quality with %100 certified organic powder

I now find myself looking forward to waking up to a steaming cup of cacao a few days a week. Even enough so to get out of bed before sunrise. Personally, I love it, and hot chocolate in the morning has become a pure joy and jumpstart to the day : )

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Below are links to articles with more in-depth info on cacao powder:

Cacao vs Cocoa

Athletic Performance

Nutritional Facts

Cocoa Polyphenols and Their Potential Benefits for Human Health

Cocoa Extract Fully Examined

 

 

 

3 Responses to “Power of Cacao”

  1. birney April 23, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    Great idea.

    birney

  2. Pete May 15, 2017 at 6:40 pm #

    Thanks for the idea of the raw cacao drink – had a pack in the back of my cupboard too! Occasionally gets added to smoothies but much nicer in a hot drink.
    Tried it with milk, cinnamon and ginger which was delicious though will definitely try your recipe with water, cayenne pepper and cumin another day. Did you really use a tablespoon of cacao powder though, II only used a teaspoon in my milky version? 🙂
    Found you through a link to Body Work Part 1which has finally made my mind up to put some deadlifts into my climbing training – annotated pictures for I’s, Y’s & T’s really helped too.
    Thanks for the ideas and inspiration.
    Pete

    • Lisa Chulich May 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I usually only use a teaspoon at a time, but make multiple cups some days, ending up at about 32oz of water per tablespoon

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