Chocolate is so good for you because ...
... cacao is a superfood
Cacao, also called cocoa – the ingredient that gives chocolate its character – is good for you.
Cacao is one of the most nutrient-dense magical foods in the world. It even has a mythological dimension, called the food of gods as well as the food of lovers. Chocolate has the power to uplift our moods, elevate our spirits and open our hearts.
Commercially produced chocolate is, of course, a rather processed food. The purist would say that chocolate needs to be eaten in its raw state, as cacao beans or cacao nibs (the bean crushed into smaller pieces). I remember very vividly my first experience eating raw cacao nibs. I took a teaspoonful into my mouth and slowly began to chew on the crunchy pieces. At first I felt a bit disappointed that the taste wasn’t sweet at all. But then my mind shifted toward accepting this new food for whatever it had in store. As the taste grew more intense with prolonged and conscious chewing, I came to recognize the essence of chocolate – it was like a homecoming, like uncovering a gem. I was experiencing the true spirit of chocolate! It was subtle yet powerful. There was a richness and also a purity. I had a sense of upward expansion beyond my body – I felt uplifted, energized and completely present. It was really amazing!
Cacao is a bean that grows in the tropics and contains a host of beneficial components, including magnesium, antioxidants, phenylethylamine, anandamine and tryptophan. Cacao has the highest magnesium content of any food. Magnesium provides support for the heart, increases brainpower, acts as a natural laxative, soothes premenstrual symptoms, relaxes muscles and helps to build strong bones. Antioxidants make up 10 percent of the cacao bean – an exceptionally high percentage. Phenylethylamine, also called the “love chemical,” anandamine, also called the “bliss chemical,” and tryptophan, the amino acid needed to produce serotonin, the “feel-good chemical,” are all mood-enhancing nutrients that produce feelings of euphoria and well-being.
As you can see, cacao has health benefits on the physical as well as the mental plane. It is also considered to be an aphrodisiac. On the spiritual level, cacao has the subtle power to heal and to open our hearts, bringing forth a sense of receptivity, kindness, compassion and love.
Consider the richness of cacao’s gifts when you savor your next piece of chocolate. Please slow down and consciously enjoy its many levels. Try a high-quality dark chocolate. The more cacao in the chocolate, the less sugar and additives it can contain. However, as always, read the fine print. It is legal to call 41 percent cacao content a dark chocolate, but chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao is best.
And if you are really brave, try raw cacao beans or nibs. They are sold at health food stores and through raw food websites such as www.sunfood.com
Excerpted from my book Essential Nourishment