Cacao- More than Just a Sweet Treat

Say the word “cacao” and everyone around you is sure to go mad as images of rich and delicious chocolates and candy cross their minds. It is true that cacao beans (Theobroma cacao L.)are the source of chocolate but they have so much more to offer than just the base for sweet treats. The beans have a ton of benefits to offer people and knowing about them should take some of the sting out of consuming a bit of rich, dark chocolate.

History

The exact origins of cacao are quite mysterious and nobody really knows how they came to be. All anyone really knows is thousands of years ago they flourished in the lush, verdant forests of Central America. According to archaeologists it was either the Olmecs or the Mayas to discover Cacao and its benefits first. In fact, the Mayas viewed the beans as a sacred fruit and even used as currency. With their cacao beans, they paid for taxes and even bought goods. The Mayas and Aztecs would then dry the beans and grind them into a paste which they mixed with hot water and corn or chilli peppers; this frothy concoction was mostly enjoyed by people who had money and people of power.

Properties and constituents

Most people find it hard to believe but cacao beans actually have properties that help lower cholesterol. Improve cough, aid in weight loss, control eczema, and manage hypertension. It has powerful antioxidant properties as well as aphrodisiac, diuretic, stimulant, and emmenagogue properties. The beans contain caffeine, flavonoids, phenylethylalamine, anandamide, magnesium, sulphur, oleic acid, theobromine, and tryptophan.

Uses and Benefits

According to studies, chocolate made from the beans contains over 350 chemicals and the list includes the bromine which is an alkaloid that resembles caffeine but better as its effect on the brain is less pronounced and less disturbing. Forget about what people say about chocolate being bad for cough because real chocolate is actually more effective at calming cough as compared to traditional cough syrups and pills.

Dosage

With all these good-for-you properties and functions, people may wonder why chocolate has such a bad reputation but fact is, most people think of commercial milk chocolate when they think of chocolate and truth be told, those hardly have any cocoa beans in them at all. In order for people to take advantage of all the goodness cacao has to offer, they need to look for the good chocolate which is usually harder to come by and somewhat pricier. People need to know that the less processed the beans are, the better for the body. Best look for products labelled “cacao” rather than the ones labelled “cocoa” as the latter is sure to have undergone major processing and likely to have additives. As long as people take real chocolate and not the sugary commercial candy bars, they can take a bite or two every day. Some people even consume cups of cocoa throughout the day to say chipper.

Side effects

There are no known side effects for the consumption of cacao but it is highly toxic to dogs as the bromine causes a toxic build-up in their systems. People with pets ought to keep their cocoa in a safe place.

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