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Unlike processed dark chocolate, antioxidants are preserved in raw cacao. Benefits from keeping organic chocolate unheated include; much higher levels of the famous chocolate antioxidants (oligomeric procynanidins, resveratrol and the polyphenols: catechin and epicatechin) as well as the preservation of vitamin C, phenethylamine (PEA, the feel good neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of love!), Omega 6 fatty acids (which when heated become rancid and cause inflammation), tryptophan (a commonly deficient amino acid in those who consume a diet of mostly cooked food) and serotonin. The cool facts about chocolate in this article reveal how this fun and amazing superfood is actually healthy for you!
It turns out that all the bad things commonly attributed to non-raw chocolate bars, such as cavities, weight gain and diabetes, are actually caused by the dairy, sugar and others fillersadded to the dark chocolate. Health benefits of chocolate when it is in the form of raw cacao beans, butter, nibs and/or the powder include; weight loss (because of its high chromium and coumarin content), prevention of cavities (theobromine actually kills streptococci mutans one of the strains of bacteria that cause tooth decay) and regulation of blood sugar which is beneficial for diabetes (chromium can naturally regulate blood sugar). Also raw cacao benefits the heart and the entire cardiovascular system as a whole.
Cacao is the highest whole food source of magnesium, which also happens to be the most deficient mineral in the diet of modern cultures. Magnesium relaxes muscles, improves peristalsis in the bowels and relaxes the heart and cardiovascular system. The dark chocolate antioxidants have been clinically proven to literally dissolve plaque built up in the arteries which helps in reversing heart disease and causes naturally lower blood pressure. Also, various other vitamins and minerals in raw cacao benefits the cardiovascular system.
The ancient superfood...real natural healthy chocolate beans in their original state. The Criollo group, which was used by the Maya, is the most rare and expensive of the three. Only 10 to 15% of cacao trees are Criollo, and they are small and difficult to grow. The chocolate made from the Criollo bean has a delicate and complex array of flavors. Often referred to as the “King of Cacao,” Criollo is highly prized. Almost all chocolate nowadays is cooked out to high temperatures and loaded with added white sugar, milk, saturated fat, hydrogenated oils and it goes through nasty chemical processes in manufacturing. The problem is not chocolate but what Industry does to the original food. Chocolate itself actually comes from the beautiful bean of the Theobroma Cacao Tree whose name literally translates into ‘Food of the Gods’. Pure, unadulterated and raw, this bean is loaded with active antioxidants, live enzymes, and a plethora of phyto-nutrients.
A study published in the Lancet Medical Journal (Antioxidants, Lancet 1996; 348:834) found the cacao beans to be one of the richest sources of anti-oxidants, easily digestible for human metabolism. The raw Cacao Beans can contain dozens of natural phytonutrient compounds, including: magnesium, anand-amide, phenylethylamine, arginine, polyphenols & epicatechins, serotonin, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and the vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.
A German study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that women given a special portion of cacao beans each day reported skin that was moister, smoother and creamier. The researchers hypothesised that the flavanoids in the cacao, which absorb UV light, help protect the skin to glow, improving appearance (Long-term Ingestion of High Flavanol Cacao:J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6):1565-9.).
Our Peruvian cacao is cultivated by small farmer co-operatives. The Criolla variety is considered to be “the king of cacao” because it is the most ancient - it is not a hybrid - and produces high quality beans of fine flavours and aromas constituting an important percentage in the production of fine chocolate. Minimum possible processing is used with this bean, applying low fermentation and low temperature without roasting, by means of unique methods to maintain its natural purity and quality.
The Nutrients in Cacao:
- Vitamin A, Vitamin B (1, 2, 3, 5 and 6), Vitamin C, Vitamin E
- Magnesium, Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Zinc
- Iron, Chromium, Phosphorus, Sulphur/Sulfur
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids, Saturated Fats, Amino Acids
- Carbohydrates, Soluble Fibre (which is the type people need more of)
- Enzymes (including catalase, lipase and amylase)
- Other Beneficial Phytonutrients (such as the antioxidants already mentioned in this article)
In addition to promoting healthy emotional and mindful well-being, cacao beans have positive effects on the body. They contain polyphenols - the same beneficial antioxidants contained in red wine. It is entirely possible to enjoy the health benefits of drinking the recommended "daily glass of wine" without consuming alcohol by eating dark chocolate. As indicated by research, Cacao Beans can help reduce or control the levels of "bad" cholesterol in our bloodstream while raising the "good" cholesterol (HDL) levels. Studies have also indicated the polyphenols in cacao beans may reduce blood pressure.
Magnesium is another nutrient in Cacao Beans and hence, dark chocolate. Magnesium supports heart and cardiovascular system health. It also improves the strength and condition of the heart and supports its ability to pump blood effectively. Magnesium decreases blood coagulation, which means it reduces the risk of blood clots. The ability to lower the risk of blood clots is an important health benefit associated with cocoa beans for anyone concerned about their risk of heart attack or stroke.
If you have heard about the health benefits associated with consuming antioxidants, you will be impressed with the level of antioxidant flavonols contained in cacao beans. Research indicates that Cacao Beans are one of the richest natural food sources of antioxidant flavonols available. They may contain as much as a 10 percent antioxidant concentration level. Studies at Cornell University found that cacao powder contained up to three times the level of antioxidants in green tea, and twice the level found in red wine.
Research indicates that rather than being taken in as supplements, antioxidants should be consumed in their natural form for maximum benefit. This is one of the main reasons why nutritionists recommend consuming large amounts and wide varieties of fruits and vegetables. You can include dark chocolate in the list of antioxidant-rich foods to add to your diet. The cacao tree has been cultivated in Mexico and Central and South America for thousands of years, and it has been so highly valued that some Native peoples once used its seed, or bean, as currency. The Aztecs believed cacao to be of divine origin, and both they and the Mayans used the roasted bean in the their famous national beverage, together with vanilla and other flavourings.
In addition to all of these incredible health benefits, cacao beans are also gaining a reputation for supporting weight loss. Although scientific evidence to support this claim is lacking at this time, many of the health benefits we do know to be associated with cacao beans indicate it could be of benefit to dieters. Studies indicate the polyphenols contained in Cacao Beans may improve insulin sensitivity. Scientists are now exploring the link between obesity and a condition called Insulin Resistance Syndrome. Improved sensitivity to insulin as a result of consuming cacao beans or dark chocolate may actually support individuals' efforts to lose weight.
The feel-good properties associated with cocao bean consumption may also make it easier for people to stick with their diets, thus supporting weight loss. Being able to plan to enjoy a treat such as dark chocolate can help dieters overcome cravings that may lead to "cheating" on diets with unhealthy, high-calorie and high-fat forbidden foods. Cacao beans contain many substances that have earned them the reputation as being Nature's Anti-depressant. To start with, cacao beans contain three neurotransmitters that are associated with promoting a healthy mood and positive mental state: serotonin, dopamine and phenylethylamine.The phenylethylamine, or PEA contained in cacao beans affects brain chemistry in a very interesting positive way. To say you "love" chocolate may not be too far off, since PEA produces a brain chemistry that's similar to that associated with falling in love! In addition to containing mood enhancing neurotransmitters, cacao beans also contain the amino acid tryptophan and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. MAO inhibitors allow the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine to circulate in the bloodstream longer, which may help alleviate depression and support feelings of well being. MAO inhibitors have long been featured in antidepressant pharmaceutical medications, as has tryptophan. Tryptophan plays a vital role in the production of serotonin within the body, as well.
Cacao Beans in History: The cacao tree has been cultivated in Mexico and Central and South America for thousands of years, and it has been so highly valued that some Native peoples once used its seed, or bean, as currency. The Aztecs believed cacao to be of divine origin, and both they and the Mayans used the roasted bean in the their famous national beverage, together with vanilla and other flavourings. Columbus brought sacks of cacao back to Europe, but he did not realise its economic value. Then, in 1519, Cortez brought cacao back to Spain, and it was soon made into a luxury drink for the upper classes. By the 17th and early 18th centuries, chocolate was considered a cure for many illnesses, as well as a catalyst for provoking passion, although it was still too expensive for the general populace.
Today cacao is planted on over 43,000 square miles worldwide. 40% of production is from Cote d’Ivoire, while Ghana and Indonesia produce about 15% each, and Brazil, Nigeria, and Cameroon provide smaller quantities. Cacao beans are harvested today in much the same way as they were by the Aztecs. After the pods ripen, which takes 5 to 6 months, they are removed from the tree and carefully cut open with a machete, and the cacao beans are extracted. After harvesting, the beans are placed on banana leaves in large wooden boxes and left to ferment for several days. During fermentation, complex chemical changes take place. The bitterness of the bean is reduced and the rich chocolate flavor begins to develop. The beans are dried after fermentation, and during this drying process, the brown colour develops and further flavor development occurs.
- Peruvian Criolla Cacao Beans - 100% Natural
- Produced to ecological standards, free from agro-chemicals, non-irradiated and GMO-free.
- Organic at source = Our supplier has certified them organic, but Ancient Purity does not register its products as organic. We add nothing and take nothing out.
Our Peruvian cacao is cultivated by small farmer co-operatives. The Criolla variety is considered to be “the king of cacao” because it is the most ancient - it is not a hybrid - and produces high quality beans of fine flavours and aromas constituting an important percentage in the production of fine chocolate. Minimum possible processing is used with this bean, applying low fermentation and low temperature without roasting, by means of unique methods to maintain its natural purity and quality. The beans are simply ground into the powder.
Cacao Beans can be consumed liberally, thrown into a smoothie or crushed and baked into deserts and other chocolate treats. With Cacao the bigger the persons body the more they can consume, so if a child less, for a body builder more. The best way to enjoy Cacao is to use it to make you own healthy chocolate brownies or chocolae smoothies we will soon have a recipe section otherwise, you can find many great combinations and techniques in superfood books and good websites.
Warning: Real chocolate and our Cacao can be fatal to dogs (and possibly horses and parrots) so be sure to keep it away from pets.
- Size: 500g
- Origin: Peru
- Container: Kraft Paper Pouch.
- Estimated shelf life from purchase: 2 years.
- Storage: Keep in a cool dry place, keep out of reach of children.
Q - What is Cacao?
A - Cacao is what chocolate is made from. It is the seed of a tropical fruit known as Theobroma Cacao. Chocolate is made by combining certain portions of coco (the de-fatted cacao) and cacao butter (the oil from the bean) along with other ingredients to get the consistency and taste we know as chocolate.
How can chocolate be good for me?
Chocolate is perceived to be bad for health is because of all the refined sugar, hydrogenated vegetable fats and additives that are used to make milk chocolate. These man made ingredients are the key causes of obesity and heart disease. Our recipe is free from refined sugar, dairy, hydrogenated fats and additives, because we respect your health.
How is your cacao prepared?
Our cacao is traditionally prepared the way it has been for thousands of years. The fruit, which looks like a nerf football, is harvested from the under-story of the rainforest. It is then placed in the ground, lined with banana leaves, where it is left to ferment for 3-5 days. This essential step in the process is what alkalizes the beans and activates the beneficial compounds within. This enzymatic transformation continues as the beans are sun-dried. From there, they are lightly roasted over an open fire which finishes the flavor, kills the bacteria that accumulate during fermentation and allows the husk to be peeled away. Once the husk is removed, we have the whole, pure cacao beans we sell.
What’s the difference between your cacao and other good cacao or chocolate?
There is a significant difference between commercially available Cacao (and the chocolate made from it) and what we sell and use at Ancient Purity. This has to do with the differences in variety, selection and processing which affect the amount of beneficial compounds in cacao. We offer the Puruvian Criollo variety, a wild/native strain of cacao that is ceremonially-selected. The Criollo variety contains significantly more of the compounds that are necessary to get the health benefits and consciousness altering effects. Most of the studies about the health benefits of cacao use the Criollo variety. Most companies that sell cacao or chocolate are using the larger seeded, more easily processed, hybridized varieties. So while the buzz about chocolate being good for your health is right on, many companies aren’t using the varieties and processing methods that ensure the high amount of beneficial compounds chocolate is known for. Just because it says organic, fair-trade or ‘85% Cacao’ has nothing to do with how much and what proportion of beneficial compounds are present. Not all chocolates are made equal!
Are there any contra-indications?
We think of our cacao as a plant medicine. Like any potent medicine, it is important to be mindful in its use. In most cases, there are no concerns to be aware of. Cacao is a strong bitter and power detoxifier as it helps cleanse the liver. Because of this, in higher doses people might experience detox symptoms such as headache or nausea. In this case, take it as a blessing and drink plenty of water as your body lets go of whatever it didn’t like. This will likely be accentuated for people on a raw diet or who are fasting. Go with lower doses in this case.
Many anti-depressants are contra-indicated with the tryptophan and MAO inhibitors in this cacao, so we recommend checking your meds first. Again, this is because our cacao is more potent to begin with and often taken in higher doses. Chocolate doesn’t have enough strength to cause these effects. Worst case scenario is headache and nausea, but avoid the hassle and do research first.
The theobromine in cacao increases heart rate significantly and is a vasodilator, lowering blood pressure. If you have such a condition, go lighter on amounts. Like coffee or tea, it is important to reduce intake of stimulating foods. The theobromine in cacao, which is very similar to caffeine, has a stimulating effect.
Real chocolate and our Cacao can be fatal to dogs (and possibly horses and parrots) so be sure to keep it away from pets.
If any symptoms do present, drink lots of water, get some rest and it will pass.
Is it organic or fair trade?
Ancient Purity is not a big company and we have so many projects we want to do, so we choose not to have outside agencies come in to provide certifications. The people who work doing the peeling & roasting, mostly women, are paid for the weight they receive so they have no incentive to include moldy or inferior quality beans. There are no chemicals or fertilizers used in the growing or preparing of the cacao as it grows on its own.
How should I store the cacao?
Cacao has a long-shelf life so doesn’t need special consideration. However, keeping it sealed (like in a glass jar or plastic bag) or in the refrigerator are ways to ensure that nothing gets into it and that it stays that much fresher.
How much should I eat a day?
The best reference point we have for this at the moment is from studies of the Kuna people, indigenous to Panama. The Kuna consume, on average, 1 ounce per day of cacao. They do this in liquid form, drinking 5-6 glasses of watery cacao drink per day. The Kuna are almost completely lacking modern health complications such as heart disease (very low incidence of heart attacks), bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. The studies linked this to their consumption of cacao. That said, daily consumption will vary person to person and depending on personal preference. Try it out and see what feels good in your body
Is Cacao farming profitable? Can Cacao farmers earn a decent living?
Cocoa is a “cash crop,” and has played an important, vibrant role in rural economies worldwide. It continues to do so today, providing families with income and raising the standard of living in thousands of communities where it is grown and harvested. It is a crop that enjoys a consistent, global demand. In some regions, particularly in parts of West Africa, farmer incomes are low – in part due to low farm productivity – and as a result these farmers struggle. Industry-supported programs help farmers with issues such as crop loss due to disease, outdated farming techniques and other income-related issues. These programs demonstrate that farmer incomes can be significantly increased in a sustainable manner, by addressing the root causes.
Do chocolate companies own cacao farms?
No. The vast majority of cocoa farms are owned and operated by individual farmers and farming families.
Do chocolate companies purchase their beans directly from farmers?
Only in extremely rare cases do companies purchase cocoa from farms. The cocoa supply chain can involve up to 12 different steps as cocoa is moved from the farming village to the port and then to the chocolate manufacturing facility, through a series of intermediaries.
Can chocolate companies pay more for their Cacao? Won’t that help farmers?
An effective way to help cocoa farmers earn more and become self-sufficient is to support them at the farm level – through different programs – rather than trying to set price controls that often fail.
Do children work on Cacao farms? Are there child labor issues on farms?
On hundreds of thousands of Cacao farms, children help out with farming tasks as members of the family, much as they do around the world, for many other crops. Helping out on the family farm is part of their daily chores, and for many farmers, an important step in eventually handing over the farm to their heirs.
At the same time, there are issues. Surveys in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana found that too many children are performing unsafe farming tasks, and being injured in the process. There are also instances where children may be working instead of attending school, and even moved (or “trafficked”) to a farm away from their village, to work full-time.
What is being done to address labor issues on Cacao farms?
The worldwide chocolate and cocoa industry believes that no child should in any way be harmed in cocoa farming, and that cocoa farming can – and must – play a positive role in the farming community. The industry supports a number of programs to help cocoa farmers, their families and farming communities. These programs are improving education: reducing the number of children exposed to unsafe farming tasks and helping exploited and/or “at-risk” children.
Why can’t industry simply label or “certify” its products?
In West Africa, cocoa is grown on as many as two million small farms spread across rural, often remote areas of the region. From the farm, a complex process takes the cocoa beans to port. Beans from multiple farms are mixed together, early in the process. To be credible, a label that certifies chocolate products as free of any labor abuses would require monitoring labor practices on every individual cocoa farm on a frequent basis. To do so on a massive scale, covering millions of tons of cocoa, would be impossible.
Can industry guarantee that chocolate is made without the worst forms of child labor?
While all private / product certification efforts address labor sensitization and training, they acknowledge that they do not provide day-to-day monitoring of labor practices. Given the absence of farm level monitoring, none of the “product certifiers” have claimed to offer a guarantee with respect to labor practices.
Public and private Certification efforts face the same daunting facts: millions of farmers and their families are on remote, smallholder farms. There are no walls, auditors, guards or monitors that can track the social conditions on each and every farm. With respect to traceability, while there can be a level of traceability in the beans produced by niche private certification schemes, it is not full traceability, bean to bar, but traceability from the co-op (or similar organization) one level up.
Why can’t industry trace each cocoa bean – to a farm that grows Cacao responsibly?
The length and complexity of the cocoa supply chain, including the number of intermediaries involved in moving several million metric tons of cocoa from individual farms to port, makes credible traceability of each and every pound/kilogram of cocoa a physical impossibility. Further complicating such an approach is the practice of combining beans from different farms – and entire villages – in the early stages of the supply chain.
What is the environmental impact of Cacao farming?
Actually, cacao farming is most effective when undertaken in harmony with the surrounding environment, which is often the tropical rainforest. Cacao trees grow best when under the shade canopy of tropical forest trees, and when environmentally responsible techniques are used to control pests and disease.
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