Cacao Health Benefits

Cacao health benefits have been gaining popularity these days. This is primarily due to the huge amount of the antioxidant flavonoids found in cacao which is four times more than those found in green or black tea. Consuming cacao has been found to bring lots of health benefits, from improved blood circulation to reduced chances of stroke.

Chocolate is the popular product made from cacao. However, the numerous cacao health benefits can only be gained when it is consumed at the right amount in its natural and unprocessed form. Cacao is available in beans, nibs and butter form. Cacao beans refer to the seeds of the cacao tree, while cacao nibs pertain to the roasted meat of cacao bean after taking the shell off.

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History of Cacao

Cacao is native to the Aztec and Mayan cultures in South and Central America. Although the health benefits of cacao were unknown during those times, it was considered a treasured plant due to its so-called divine origin and was utilized in preparing beverages for religious ceremonies. In addition, its seeds were used as currency. The Spaniards realized the economic value of cacao and dominated the chocolate market in Europe in the 16th century. During the 18th century, cacao beverages were made available to the general public and quickly topped coffee drinks.

Health Benefits of Cacao

The number of cacao health benefits has been confirmed recently by modern science. Experts were amazed by its nutritional content and health benefits.

  • Lowers blood pressure

The flavonoids found in cacao help in lowering high blood pressure, while the polyphenols aid in preventing cardiovascular diseases.

  • Enhances mood

Cacao has been found to exhibit anti-depressant properties which help in managing depression and other mood disorders. The great thing about using cacao as an anti-depressant is that it does not cause serious side effects unlike anti-depressant drugs which can shorten one’s life.

  • Reduces the chances of diabetes-related mortality

Cacao contains epicatechin flavonoid which helps minimize organ damage and impairment of the skeletal muscles, thereby lowering the chances of death attributed to diabetes. Cacao also helps in controlling the symptoms of diabetes.

  • Treats skin problems

The significant amount of flavanoids found in cacao helps in delaying the process of skin aging as well as in treating other skin problems and even skin cancer.

  • Detoxification

Cacao contains huge measures of phenolic substances and antioxidants which are even superior to those provided by tea or red wine. These substances help in detoxifying free radicals that accelerate premature aging as well as cancer.

Side Effects of Cacao

One cannot fully enjoy the cacao health benefits if it is taken in large amounts. This is because cacao contains caffeine and too much caffeine could lead to or worsen migraine, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. Moreover, excessive amounts of caffeine could cause gas, intestinal discomfort, nausea and rumbling stomach, wakefulness, rapid heartbeat, frequent urination and nervousness. Allergic reactions may also occur due to extreme consumption of cacao.

Nutrition Facts of Cacao

One ounce of cacao nib contains the following:

  • Calories – 130
  • Total fat – 12g
  • Cholesterol – 0g
  • Dietary fiber – 9g
  • Protein – 4g
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