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Health Benefits of Cacao Beans

Cacao Beans can help you lose belly fatWhat is it?

We all know how delicious and sweet chocolate is, but the hidden truth about chocolate, or rather the cacao beans that make chocolate, is how nutritious and good for you they actually are. Cacao beans have been eaten and used to provide health benefits for centuries in South America, but it wasn’t until the early 16th century (after Christopher Columbus landed in what he named Hispaniola) that cacao entered the western palette. By adding sugar to the South American cacao recipe, chocolate became all the rage in Europe, what the western world didn’t know until recently was that the cacao bean is much healthier than it’s processed cousin.

Cacao beans are technically seeds from the South American cacao tree. Cacao beans, refined and processed into cacao butter, are the basis for chocolate and chocolate products, however much of the amazing health benefits of cacao beans are lost when processed and turned into chocolate. Incorporating raw cacao beans into your diet can be extremely beneficial for your brain and perform other vital roles in for your immune system and general health.

What nutritional benefits can cacao beans provide?

Where can we start? Unprocessed cacao beans provide amazing benefits for a variety of bodily functions. In the brain, cacao beans have been long considered natural antidepressants. Raw cacao contain low levels of serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine. These three chemicals act as neurotransmitters in the brain and help regulate the body’s mood and emotions. Furthermore, the flavonoids found in abundance in cacao beans have important functions in improving and sustaining the brain’s ability to learn and remember.

Cacao beans can also provide great benefits to cardiovascular health. As previously mentioned, cacao is rich in antioxidant flavonoids. Studies have shown that flavonoid-rich diets help improve blood flow across the body which is why cacao can help with learning and memory. Another added bonus of improved blood circulation is reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol. When scientists studied South American tribes with high cacao consumption they found that these same tribes had remarkably lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

 

 

Where can I get it? 

We recommend getting cacao beans in as raw or organic a form as possible. Raw cacao nibs can be found and purchased from various whole foods outlets or from an online retailer. One alternative to raw cacao is dark chocolate. While processed dark chocolates have lower flavonoid content and thus, less nutritional benefit, than raw beans it is a decent alternative. Milk chocolate, however, is absolutely worse than cacao beans or dark chocolate. In fact, it is much worse. Using milk chocolate as an alternative to cacao beans is much worse than not eating any at all due to the presence of milk and unsaturated fats from processed cacao butter. Always be wary of the potential benefits and the potential benefits lost when incorporating new foods into your diet. Cacao beans are extremely nutritious foods that can help improve both your long-term physical and mental health, consider adding them to your diet today.

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