Cacao Beans: Food of the Gods


Cacao Beans: Food of the Gods

Cacao is derived from Theobroma Cacao beans, which literally means "Food of the Gods". Cacao contains over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness. Cacao is also high in sulphur, which helps form strong nails and hair. Cacao beans contain an unbelievable 621 anti-oxidants.

Cocoa nibs are cocoa beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks and broken into smaller pieces. Cocoa nibs can be eaten as a snack or added to baked goods and other dishes for added crunch and chocolaty flavour. These flavourful little pieces also have great nutritional value.

Nutritional Value

One oz of cocoa nibs contains 130 calories, 13 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein. They are a one of the best dietary sources of magnesium as well as a good source of calcium, iron, copper, zinc and potassium.

Cocoa nibs contain 272 milligrams of magnesium per 100 grams. Magnesium is an important mineral that many people are known to be deficient in. Some studies indicate that up to 80 percent of Americans are lacking sufficient magnesium levels. Magnesium plays a major role in nerve and muscle function, bone strength and circulation. It cannot be produced by the body, and therefore, must be obtained through food sources or supplements. Cocoa nibs are a delicious way to meet the dietary requirements for this important nutrient.

Studies show that cocoa nibs have higher antioxidant levels than blueberries, red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in cocoa nibs are also more stable than in other foods and are easy for the body to assimilate.

Health Benefits of Cacao beans.

Energy Boost: Cocoa nibs contain a substance called theobromine, a central nervous system stimulant that has a similar, though less powerful, stimulating effect as caffeine. It may give you a healthy energy boost if you're feeling low during the day.

Mood Elevators: Cocoa contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid required for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Enhanced serotonin levels can quell anxiety and enhance mood. Eating cocoa also helps to release endorphins, the bodyís natural opiates. Endorphins are what give runners that natural high. Eating cocoa can have a similar effect and may explain why some people become self-proclaimed chocoholics.

PMS Symptoms: Magnesium deficiency is known to aggravate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Forty per cent of women admit to chocolate cravings. This may be the bodyís attempt to obtain sufficient magnesium levels. Since cocoa nibs are a natural snack without added sugar, they may be a healthier way to satisfy monthly chocolate cravings.

Appetite Control: Coco contains chromium an important mineral for stabilizing blood sugar and reducing appetite.

Improve Circulation: Cocoa is a great source of flavanols, powerful antioxidants that play an important role in circulation. Flavanols help to prevent clogged arteries by helping to stop fatty acids from oxidizing in the bloodstream. Flavanols also help make blood platelets less sticky, which reduces the risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

Improve Cholesterol Levels. Cocoa contains healthy monounsaturated fats. The same fats found in olive oil. These healthy fats have been shown to raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels. According to BBC News Health, a study performed at Hull University indicated that the consumption of chocolate bars with a high cacao content, such as dark chocolate, yielded lower total blood cholesterol levels and high levels of high density lipoproteins or "good cholesterol." It should be noted that all types of chocolate bars will not yield this benefit. Milk chocolate bars will not yield the same level of cholesterol-lowering benefits because they contain sugar and milk. The higher the cacao content of chocolate, the greater its cholesterol-lowering benefit will be.

Cacao Beans: Food of the GodsAntioxidant Benefits: Extracts from the cacao bean have been scientifically proven to have a high concentration of antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemicals that rid your body of free radicals that cause cell damage and promote disease. A study performed by Ki Won Lee and published in " The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in 2003 revealed that cacao had much higher concentration of antioxidants than other well-known sources of antioxidants such as black tea, green tea and red wine.

Cardiovascular Benefits: Scientific studies have also shown that consumption of cacao has some heart healthy benefits. Researchers from the University of California-Davis were among several research groups that were a part of a multifaceted study involving the Kuna Indians of Panama. The study revealed that epicatechin, an antioxidant chemical found in cacao beans, has a direct correlation with the cardiovascular benefits of cacao. The results of the study revealed that consumption of epicatechin promotes improved blood circulation of the coronary blood vessels, relaxation of the coronary blood vessels, and improved overall cardiovascular function in humans.

Cancer Protection: Scientific research have also indicated that cacao beans possess anti-cancer properties. A study by Carine Jourdain and other researchers in "European Journal of Cancer Prevention" stated that the antioxidants contained in the cacao bean, beta-sitosterol in particular, play a protective role against the development of cancer. The study examined the effect of beta-sitosterol at various concentrations against human prostate cancer cells. The results of the study revealed that the highest concentration of beta- sitosterol offered complete growth inhibition of both metastatic and non-metastatic human prostate cancer cells.

This food is so special, that a long time ago in Mexico City they even used it as currency. Thatís how amazing and valuable the cacao bean was considered to be. Now you can just pick up a giant bag for around US$15.

Cacao also contains the chemicals phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide. PEA is an adrenal-related chemical that we create naturally when we're excited. It also plays a role in feeling focused and alert because it causes your pulse rate to quicken, resulting in a similar feeling to when we are excited or fall in love! Another 'bliss' chemical found in chocolate is the lipid anandamide. It's there in our brain when we feel great. Anandamide is also called "chocolate amphetamine" as it causes changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels, leading to feelings of excitement and alertness.

Anandamide works like amphetamines to increase mood and decrease depression, but it is not addictive like caffeine or illegal with undesirable side-effects like amphetamines.

Anandamide is quite unique in its resemblance to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a chemical found in marijuana.

The good news is that even though the anandamide in chocolate helps to create feelings of elation, the effect is not the same as the THC in marijuana. It would take approximately twenty five pounds of chocolate to achieve a 'high' similar to marijuana and the nausea would overpower any feelings of bliss at all.

Out of 300 plus compounds found in raw cacao there are at least two:

1) theobromine - affects our nervous system
2) oxalic acid - inhibits calcium absorption

Dated 09 August 2013

 

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