Cacao has been used as an important ingredient of chocolates for centuries already. Contrary to popular belief, chocolates are not bad for the health. Chocolates have numerous nutritional values that can help the body in different ways. The nutrients found in chocolates are actually coming from the cacao. What are the cacao health benefits then?
Cacao came from the Cacao tree which is an evergreen tree that came from the family sterculiaceae. The cacao tree needs a humid climate with regular rainfall in order to strive. The fruit, called cacao pod, contains 20-60 seeds which are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate.
Early record in the use of cacao revealed that it was used as a medicine to treat certain diseases in the 1500s. Cacao was popularly used to manage digestive problems, kidney problems, anemia, fever, fatigue, respiratory problems, poor appetite and low breast milk production. Cacao oil was used topically to treat skin problems like eczema, burns and psoriasis. Today, cacao oil is used as an additional ingredient for beauty products such as skin moisturizers.
Cacao in its unprocessed form has twice antioxidant concentration than with processed cacao and ten times higher than blueberries! These antioxidants takes off free radicals in the body which can damage cells and makes the skin look old.
Cacao is also rich in magnesium which helps develop strong bone. This is best for those who have low magnesium level in the body. Americans are found to have naturally low magnesium level in their body thus adding cacao products to their daily diet could mean a lot their health.
A compound named phenylethylamine can be seen in cacao. It helps increase blood circulation and pulse rate which helps one to focus well and be alert. Another compound in cacao is the anandamide which helps elevate the mood. This compound is also found in anti depression drugs.
Theobromine can also be found in cacao. This compound is diuretic in nature which allows the excretion of excess body fluids. This is great for those who are having water retention or edema. The sulphur component of cacao has an impact on one’s beauty as it helps bring out healthy skin, nails and hair.
These are some of the healthful benefits of cacao. Since cacao is the main ingredient of chocolates, eating them is not bad after all. What is bad is over eating of chocolates. Eating too much chocolate will increase the caloric intake which turns into fats when not used as energy. The secret is actually “Moderation”. It is the key to a healthy body.