What is Cacao?
Cultivated in Mexico, Central America, and South America, cacao is one of the best known and most widely loved superfoods on the planet. Ancient indigenous cultures, such as the Aztecs and Mayans, began using cacao as a source of food, medicine, and currency as early as 1900 BC. Cacao was immortalized and venerated by these ancient native cultures, and the Mayans (who believed the plant to be of divine origin), used cacao beans to make a ritual beverage used during betrothal and marriage ceremonies. Thus, the link between romance and chocolate originated long before Columbus brought it to the Spain in the 16th Century. Spain soon lost its monopoly on the European chocolate market, and hot chocolate shops began popping up in France and England. By the 18th century, it had become fashionable and was sold everywhere from Salzburg to Stockholm. It was around this time that the newly invented steam engine revolutionized cacao bean grinding, a process which reduced the costs of production and made chocolate affordable to the masses.
Benefits of Cacao
Raw cacao is chalk-full of antioxidants, chromium, vitamin C, phenethylamine, omega 6 fatty acids, and tryptophan, among many other vital nutrients. It is also the greatest whole food source of magnesium, which also happens to be the most lacking mineral in the modern day diet. The high antioxidant count in raw cacao gives it some significant benefits:
- Supports the cardiovascular system
- Promotes longevity
- Boosts energy levels