There was a food so prized by the Aztecs, they considered it to be worth more than gold and even used it as a currency. Its name means “food of the gods” and it was especially prized for its ability to provide all day energy.
This food is one of the highest sources of antioxidants among any known food. Antioxidants provide protection against oxidation. Oxidation is the same process as “rusting” on metal, only it also happens inside your body resulting in aging and degeneration. The wrinkles around a smoker’s mouth are a visible sign of oxidation’s effects on a particular part of the body.
This food is among the highest sources of magnesium of any food, and magnesium is a big mineral deficiency in our modern society.
It’s one of the only foods to contain neurotransmitters and hormone precursors. It helps boost serotonin which can fight off depression as well as anandamide which is the “bliss” hormone. It is one of only two foods to contain phenylethylamine which is the “love” chemical associated with the feelings of being in love.
This food is none other than the source of all chocolate, the cacao bean.
It wasn’t until the addition of processed sugar and processing of the cacao that we end up with the chocolate treats that we typically think of as unhealthy. You may have heard of studies showing the health benefits of dark chocolate, and that’s because it contains less sugar and fat and more of the anti-aging and health promoting cacao.
When I discovered this, I wondered, could it be that so many people instinctively crave chocolate because, in its raw form, it is one of the greatest health foods we’ve ever discovered as mankind? Knowing what I know about food cravings, I think this is very possible. Sometimes people crave something because their body knows that food will provide certain missing elements such as minerals, antioxidants, and mood boosters that are desparately needed.
I recommend getting as close to a pure raw cacao as possible. Some do not enjoy the bitter taste of raw cacao because they’re so used to the highly processed conventional chocolate. I’ve found that I was able to develop not just a tolerance, but a love for raw cacao fairly quickly by doing just a few things.
The first is to gradually move to eating darker chocolates. Yes, you can eat chocolate and be healthy! Like coffee and other bitter foods, a person can readily adapt to the flavor if they gradually introduce it. Bitter foods are very important for health and are rarely consumed in the typical Western diet. I actually prefer the taste of dark chocolate now over lighter chocolates.
As a tolerance for bitter foods develops, one can then start to incorporate raw cacao with a healthier sweetener such as honey or stevia. It also makes an excellent addition to a smoothie where it can be used as a flavor enhancer. Cacao is also unique in that it can be used as a “driver” to aid in the absorption and taste of other herbs such as medicinal mushrooms.
One of my favorite ways to eat raw cacao is to melt some cacao butter in hot water or almond milk with a little cinnamon and raw honey to make a hot chocolate.