Before we dive into the real good stuff, let's talk about the most important part of all of this!! When we refer to chocolate in this blog post, we are talking about DARK chocolate! This is very important because, the benefits mentioned below will have minimal to no effects if you have a bar full of sugar and dairy. The best kind is going to be a dark chocolate bar of at least 80% - for all the milk chocolate lovers out there, an essential tidbit of information is that consuming chocolate with dairy prevents the absorption of polyphenols meaning you wouldn’t actually be getting much benefit at all. A chocolate bar that is 80% or higher will typically contain no dairy (cocoa butter is NOT dairy) and much less sugar than your average candy bar - that bar will be your safest bet for store-bought chocolate.
So, now that you know what kind of chocolate to enjoy, let's find out why we should be consuming MORE!!!
1. It's a Huge Dose of Phytochemicals
Theobromine, tyrosine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide are the four phytochemicals that are present in only raw cacao. In fact, they can easily deteriorate when roasted, so these stars are only applicable to raw cacao, which you can find in our Afternoon Delight & Loco Cocoa Herbal Powder. Let's dive into each one:
- THEOBROMINE is an alkaloid with a similar molecular structure to caffeine, but unlike caffeine, theobromine does not effect the central nervous system. It provides a mild stimulating effect, much weaker than that of caffeine, but none the less, most people still feel it.
- TYROSINE is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in the body. It is a precursor to a catecholamine called dopamine, meaning our bodies need tyrosine in order to produce dopamine. Dopamine is a "feel good" hormone that is needed to serve several functions of the body that include, but are not limited to: sleep, cognitive function, digestion, blood flow, stress response, pain processing and motor control.
- PHENYLETHYLAMINE aka "chocolate amphetamine", acts as a central nervous system stimulant to improve mood, attention, stamina, weight loss, and athletic performance.
- ANANDAMIDE is a fatty acid neurotransmitter that attaches to cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain. The name, anandamide derived from the Sanskrit word, ananda, meaning bliss or joy. This is because when consumed, or made in the body, it creates a euphoric feeling of bliss and love throughout the brain and body. It is a truly beautiful experience, highly recommended by us here at Wild Sun <3
2. It has Minerals for Days
When it comes to raw cacao, it’s not just these powerful phytochemicals that are beneficial to our health - it is also the rich source of minerals such as magnesium, Sulphur, and chromium that intensify the health benefits as well.
- MAGNESIUM is a mineral that helps support a calm nervous system and a healthy heart. There are about 40mg of magnesium per tablespoon of cacao powder and that is a pretty decent amount considering you could add a tablespoon of cacao powder to, let’s be honest, just about anything.
- SULPHUR is a mineral necessary to promote strong hair and nails and achieve a clearer complexion. Iron is crucial for the production of red blood cells, transporting oxygen into the blood, and for overall energy; it also is great for strengthening nails and hair as well.
- CHROMIUM is a mineral that regulates blood sugar levels and liver detoxification… and we could all use a little support in that department!
3. It is Super Rich in Flavonoids & Polyphenols
Flavonoids & polyphenols are different types of antioxidants found in cacao. We will be focusing particularly on epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidin. They are essentially the stars of the show when it comes to cacao's powerhouse of nutrients, in fact, these babies are what gives cacao its clout for being one of the most potent, antioxidant-rich foods found on plant Earth.
- EPICATECHIN provides several benefits. For one, it can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke because of its ability to reduce blood clotting, enhance blood flow, and hinder the oxidation of bad cholesterol. At about 1.6 oz of pure cacao daily, it can actually play the same role as a small dose of aspirin because of its blood thinning properties.
- CATECHIN has been showed to slow to absorption of glucose in the intestines, meaning it helps to regulate blood sugar levels without a big spike. This supports the pancreas in it's secretion of insulin and so, can be helpful for those with diabetes, insulin resistance and other forms of metabolic syndrome.
- PROCYANIDIN may prevent inflammatory and oxidative damage to DNA and may exhibit immunomodulatory effects in the overall immune system.
4. Bitter is Better
Bitter is one of the 5 universal tastes, and one the the 6 tastes of Ayurveda (you can find more about that here!). It is a taste we all recognize, and if we are being honest, most Americans turn away from it, it is not really a preferred taste among many. It is, though, one of the most beneficial tastes for our bodies. Our bodies have bitter receptors throughout, not just in our mouths, and these sites have different benefits, depending on where they are located. The ones in our mouths tend to stimulate digestion as it promotes the secretion of saliva. The bitter receptors on our lungs regulate their innate immune defenses and with that, they decrease inflammation, increase mucous clearance, and directly kill bacteria. In traditional western herbalism, bitters are used for liver and gallbladder congestion, as they stimulate the production of bile and enhance detoxification through these accessory digestive organs.
That sums up our deep love for chocolate and why it is quite possibly the best food on the planet. Please share with us your favorite chocolate experiences and recipes below in the comments section!
Sending BIG Love,