Also known as
Theobroma cacao, Cocoa beans, Cocoa pods, and Cacao.
Cacao beans and nibs have a long and colorful history, beginning in Central and South America before 1500 BC. The entire cacao fruit was used medicinally by the Mayan, Olmec and Aztec civilizations. These early American peoples also enjoyed consuming chocolate as a beverage; each culture adding its own mix of spices and flavorings to the drink. After the Spanish conquest in the 1500's, cacao made its way to Europe and began to spread worldwide.
While many of us view chocolate as a delicious guilty pleasure, scientific evidence suggests that its health benefits are substantial and far reaching. From the 16th through the 20th centuries, medical texts reported no less than 100 medicinal uses of cacao. These documented uses include weight gain, appetite stimulation, nervous system stimulation, and improved digestion and elimination.
Science has shown that dark chocolate can positively benefit the cholesterol profile while cacao in general provides the same amount of antioxidant polyphenols as a glass of red wine. Cacao also stimulates the production of natural antidepressants in the body, as well as containing its own stimulants, theophylline and caffeine. The beans are rich in magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and potassium, and are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.
Caffeine, flavonoids, phenylethylalamine, anandamide, magnesium, sulfur, oleic acid, theobromine, tryptophan, Cacao beans and nibs contain more flavonoid antioxidants than most other vegetables and fruits * up to four times as much concentrated antioxidants as green tea. Cacao stimulates the production of serotonin and endorphins, and contains phenylethylalamine and anandamide, two chemicals that elevate the mood and help increase focus.
Beans, either whole or broken into nibs
Eaten raw-as is, or roasted, brewed, and powdered into tea. Used abundantly in food and other consumables. Sometimes found in extract form.
Cacao beans and nibs contain a number of constituents that have been proven beneficial healthwise, but it?s worth noting that many of these constituents are destroyed or lessened by processing. Health practitioners recommend that anyone interested in eating cacao for its health benefits use raw, unprocessed cacao beans and nibs rather than processed chocolate.
Anyone with a sensitivity to chocolate should avoid eating cacao beans or nibs. The active polyphenols and other substances in cacao can trigger migraines and cause other allergic reactions in sensitive people.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.