Words by Amy Huggins
Many of us will give and receive chocolates as gestures of love, but have you ever wondered exactly why they have become associated with romance?
Chocolate has long been regarded as a potent aphrodisiac, however it’s likely the box you receive on the on special occasions will increase your waistline, rather than your libido.
It is raw chocolate or cacao, which possesses a multitude of health benefits, including potent bliss phytochemicals theobromine and anandamide. Raw chocolate is produced by cold pressing unroasted cocoa beans which maintains the beneficial enzymes which are lost in heat treating. The supposed health benefits of chocolate can therefore be entirely credited to raw cacao.
The processed chocolate or cocoa we are familiar with is produced with low grade highly processed cocoa, meaning we miss out on the feel-good factor that has given chocolate it’s sacred status throughout history.
The Aztecs and Incas adored chocolate with the latter calling it ‘the drink of the Gods’. Cocoa came to Europe in the 16th century and as chocolate production developed, refined forms of chocolate became the norm, reducing the magical health benefits of the wonderful cacao bean.
With anti-depressant use at an all-time high, it is worth knowing that cacao naturally boosts serotonin, the feel-good hormone which is responsible for feelings of calm and happiness. It also contains the potent brain chemical phenyl ethylamine, which is produced when we feel deep infatuation and love. It is considered to be a ‘heart opener’ balancing the heart chakra. When used in medicinal doses it is said to release trauma and negative patterns.
It has become a fixture on the sober rave scene for this very reason. With a potent mix of caffeine and feel good chemicals, many users claim to experience a very pure natural high.
It is believed that cacao was used ceremonially as far back as 1900 BC by the Olmec people of central America who would use it to commune with their gods.
Cacao ceremonies are on the rise in the UK, with many millennials opting for this ancient ritual over a night out.
During the ceremony cacao is used in high medicinal doses, opening the heart chakra, releasing emotional blockages, past trauma, depression, anxiety or negative beliefs.
Cacao is much more gentle than other plant medicines and so offers a wonderful first step into the world of healing with plants.
A dark side of the chocolate industry worth noting, is that around 70% of the globes cocoa is produced by indigenous communities paid extremely low wages. Child slaves are often also used, often working in perilous conditions with harmful pesticides and farming machinery. For this reason, always aim for Fairtrade products whenever possible and eat your chocolate with a clear conscience!
Go crazy for cacao. Health benefits of cacao and how to use it.
It has 40 times the antioxidant of blueberries. Anti-oxidants prevent aging and degeneration of cells.
It contains phyto-chemicals which are anti-carcinogenic.
It is chocked full of magnesium which is essential for a healthy heart and brain
It has more calcium than cow’s milk
It’s a natural mood elevator and natural anti-depressant
It is the highest plant-based source of iron
How to use it
Try Balance Garden contributor Blanka Priddle’s Chocolate Fondue Recipe
Add a heaped tablespoon to your daily smoothie, for a boost of natural energy.
Make a warming hot chocolate
Add to raw balls as the perfect healthy snack throughout the day
Add to brownies or chocolate mousse for the perfect indulgent pudding
For delicious cacao recipes visit https://www.hummusapien.com/healthy-cacao-recipes/
For more information on cacao ceremonies visit www.cacaoceremonies.co.uk
Amy Huggins is a nutritional therapist and fertility specialist. After being diagnosed as infertile, she used nutrition and naturopathic techniques to heal her body and reverse her diagnosis, giving birth to her first child in 2017. Amy now helps women achieve their dream of motherhood with nutritional and lifestyle coaching. You can find out more about Amy and her work over on her website www.amyhuggins.com or instagram, twitter or facebook
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