The scientific name for cacao is theobroma cacao. In Greek this means ‘Food of the Gods’.
It is primarily grown in tropical regions of Central & South America and in West Africa and is the main ingredient in chocolate, creating one of the most valuable industries in the world. West Africa produces around 70% of the worlds cacao supply and is where most of the bulk comes from for the confectionary industry. Central & South American cacao is much more refined in flavour and has higher levels of health benefits. It’s known to have been consumed as far back as the Mayans over 4000 years ago! Ceremonial grade cacao from this region, is believed to be a sacred plant medicine by many but there are also many other ways to consume this wonderful superfood too.
I personally love making a hot cacao drink every morning to start my day but you can also bake with it, add it to smoothies, oatmeal, desserts, sprinkle on toast or add it to your chili con carne for more depth…there’s so many options.
What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?
More than just a couple of vowels…. Both cocoa and cacao start out as beans from the cacao tree. Cacao is the raw, unprocessed beans which have been fermented and processed at a low temperature, whereas cocoa is produced by roasting the beans at a high temperature after fermentation.
Cocoa is commonly used in the process of making chocolate and generally will have added sugar and dairy in this process. It’s much less bitter than the minimally processed cacao.
We’re seeing a lot more products containing cacao now as it has become increasingly popular in the last few years as people begin to learn the benefits of this amazing superfood.
What are the benefits of cacao?
Cacao really is a true superfood. Here’s the main reasons why:
Can reduce oxidative stress through its high levels of antioxidants (significantly more than blueberries!) called flavanols which protect our cells from damage & inflammation
Great source of iron, magnesium & calcium
Great source of flavonoids which are beneficial for cardiovascular health
Contains theobromine which is an alkaloid that has a similar effect to caffeine (minus the jitters of activating the adrenals!) in boosting mood and energy levels and enhancing our cognitive function
Contains natural compounds including tryptophan which activate the natural reward pathways in the body producing a feel good effect and elevating feelings of joy and pleasure
Great for skin health through bioactive compounds including PEA & tryptamine which also assist in reducing emotional stress.
In Central & South America it’s known as a sacred brain food as it helps to sustain mental happiness and balance in life
And in case you needed any more convincing, it's also an aphrodisiac…. ;)
As you can see, there’s a huge number of benefits of consuming cacao. However, it’s important to source it from a reputable supplier so you know the quality isn’t compromised and it’s from a sustainable source.
I personally use Seleno Health ceremonial cacao drops. The quality, flavour and benefits are by far the best I’ve come across so far. The mental clarity and focus I feel after my morning cacao really sets me up for an amazing day.
My cacao recipe
250ml coconut milk (or your milk of choice)
150ml filtered water
Sprinkle of organic cinnamon*
1 heaped tablespoon of collagen powder*
¼ teaspoon of local honey (or your sweetener of choice)*
½ teaspoon of Flow State Four Mushroom Blend powder* (keep your eyes peeled for another blog on this amazing product soon!)
7 buttons of Seleno Health Ceremonial Grade Cacao
Heat the milk and water in a pot, add the cinnamon, mushroom powder & collagen and give it a whisk to get rid of any little lumps.
Add your honey and cacao buttons and let them melt.
Continue stirring and take care not to let it boil.
When melted, pour into your favourite mug and take the time to be present and enjoy every mouthful in your favourite spot.