Theobroma cacao comes from the Amazon, although most trees are now produced on plantations. The tree sprouts pods, which can weigh an astonishing pound each. The beans are gathered from the pods and dried. Evidence shows the theobroma cacao being used as far back as 1500’s B.C. by the Mayans.
Theobroma cacao translates into ‘food of the gods.’ Chocolate is made from these beans. While many people believe any type of chocolate purchased from the store has health benefits, those chocolates are processed and have added sugars and milk. It is the dark ‘raw’ chocolate made from theobroma cacao that is so good for our bodies. Called a ‘super food,’ theobroma cacao provides us with many significant health benefits.
Theobroma Cacao Contains Flavonoid Antioxidants
Our body is protected by our immune system. Attack to our immune system comes from free radicals. These free radicals come from many sources – within our body as well as from outside influences like pollution, smoke, chemicals and ozone. These free radicals can lead to serious illness and disease such as cancer, heart attacks, as well as premature aging. When our immune system is healthy, we are able to fight disease and sickness. However, many of us are stressed, overworked, overtired, not eating properly, which lowers our immune system.
Theobroma cacao contains flavonoid anti-oxidants that neutralize free radicals and their harmful effects. A small amount of chocolate, perhaps a bar, contains flavonoids equivalent to half a dozen apples, or over four cups of green tea. Studies show there are higher levels of these antioxidants in raw cacao than in fruits, vegetables, tea or wine. Cacao theobroma, being high in flavonoid anti-oxidants, boosts our immune system and protects us from sickness, and disease.
Theobroma Cacao Contains Amino Acid Arginine that Helps Build Muscles
For weightlifters and athletes, theobroma cacao also contains arginine, an amino acid that helps build muscles as well as promote a faster recovery after working out. When working out, muscles tear and break down, part of the process to increase muscle bulk and definition. The benefits of arginine in this process allow for quicker recovery.
Arginine is referred to as the ‘aphrodisiac’ ingredient, making you feel relaxed and stress free.
Theobroma Cacao Contains Magnesium
Almost 80% of Americans are low in the mineral magnesium, due to poor diet, overwork and stress. People who exercise vigorously can also deplete their bodies of this mineral. Magnesium greatly affects our bodies and is essential for healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Magnesium also balances our brain chemistry. It helps our body to build and maintain strong bones and muscles, promotes deep sleep and fights depression. Theobroma cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium.
Theobroma Cacao Contains MAO Inhibitors
Theobroma cacao contains MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors.) MAO inhibitors raise your serotonin levels, making you feel happy and relaxed. MAO inhibitors also provide effective appetite suppression, allowing food cravings to cease. This is very helpful for those who are trying to lose weight.
It Promotes Feelings of Happiness
Theobroma cacao promotes feelings of happiness with anandamide, a chemical that calms your mood, relaxes you, making you feel happy and young. Additionally, theobroma cacao contains tyramine and serotonin, which calm you, balance your mood, brain function, and give you feelings of relaxation, happiness and well being. Anandamide is also in theobroma cacao, called the ‘bliss’ chemical, as well as the chemical PEA, what our brain releases when we are in love. Because theobroma cacao contains these mood enhancers, you will feel energetic, happy and interested in such personal improvements as exercise and weight loss.
Theobroma Cacao Increases Energy Levels
Caffeine and theobromine are found in theobroma cacao. These provide energy that is sustained, rather than a temporary jolt which can leave a person jittery. This is beneficial for those who regularly exercise, to promote a longer and more productive work out. Caffeine and theobromine provide clarity and focus throughout the day. In addition, powerful appetite suppressants quiet the strong cravings that make dieting difficult. This allows focus to be placed on nutritional foods.
The flavonoid antioxidants in theobroma cacao have been shown to lower cholesterol levels by blocking cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels. Additionally, the antioxidants in cacao might help your heart. Studies show blood vessels are more relaxed by the antioxidants, effectively lowering blood pressure as well as increasing circulation.