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!
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.
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.
Significant source of “Bliss Chemicals” – anandamide, dopamine, phenylethylamine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters make us feel great, for longer, when we consume cacao.
Contains rare oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO) that are most likely responsible for momentarily reduce ones apatite.
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?
- 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
- 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 : )
Below are links to articles with more in-depth info on cacao powder: