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Cocoa as a superfood

A true SUPERFOOD in many ways

Many people know it primarily from sugar-sweet powder mixtures, which ultimately have little to do with cacao.

However, if you look at cocoa in its pure, original form, you can see the potential that lies behind the miracle bean. Cocoa as a superfood in many ways. You may have already experienced that it is an excellent food for strained nerves and heavy hearts. But that is not all - indigenous peoples of Central and South America recognized the immense potential of cocoa hundreds of years ago and used it as a medicine for mental and physical health.

When we talk about the health effects of cocoa, the first thing that matters is the type of Cocoa as a superfood, or its preparation and form of processing. This article refers to high-quality ceremonial cocoa in its pure form - organically grown, carefully produced and without the addition of sugar. Original and pure, as you can find it in our Shop Conventional cocoa often contains large amounts of added sugar, which makes it a sweet sin. In its natural form, however, it is a rich and very complex food with around 300 different ingredients. What exactly is ceremonial Cocoa as a superfood from conventional cocoa you will learn in this article..

A BLISSFUL ENRICHMENT

One particularly important polyunsaturated fatty acid in cacao is anandamide. Its relaxing and mood-enhancing effects have been compared to those of cannabis. The substance also occurs naturally in the human brain and provides a pleasant feeling of home and happiness. Hence the name: 'Anandamide' is derived from the Vedic language Sanskrit from 'ananda' and means something like 'bliss'.

In addition, cacao naturally contains MAO inhibitors,which have an antidepressant effect. Monoamine oxidases (MAO) are enzymes responsible for the breakdown of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline. While serotonin is known as a happiness hormone, dopamine and adrenaline have a stimulating effect on the body, which also has a positive effect on the state of mind in the quantities found. Thus, if the breakdown of these hormones is curbed, the feelings evoked are maintained for longer. As we age, the enzymes (MAO) become more active, so the neurotransmitters are broken down earlier and their levels decrease. This can result in depression, low mood and premature aging.

SOURCE OF NUMEROUS SECONDARY PLANT SUBSTANCES

Cacao contains numerous health-promoting and stimulating secondary plant compounds such as antioxidants, amino acids and alkaloids..

Antioxidants protect the body by reducing free radicals in the body. These would provide oxidative stress and are associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature aging.

Due to the antioxidants, the arteries dilate, blood flow is promoted and the heart and circulatory system are protected. Furthermore, it has been found that cacao can lower the oxidation of LDL, the so-called 'bad cholesterol'. It is important in this context that the cacao is prepared vegan, because the addition of dairy products. inhibits the effect of antioxidants or even cancels them completely. As a possible reason for this, researchers say that from the combination of flavonoids of the cacao and the milk proteins complexes are formed, which make the absorption into the blood more difficult and thus reduce the biological availability for the body.

Particularly important antioxidants in cacao are flavonoids, a subgroup of polyphenols. In fact, cocoa contains more of these than any other food. In fact, the amount is many times greater than that found in blueberries and green tea. Flavonoids are believed to lower blood pressure, improve memory, and counteract fat storage. They are also said to be effective against inflammation.

Absorption of amino acids

The absorption of the amino acids contained is optimally facilitated by their composition found in cacao. Some of the amino acids have a special role as neurotransmitters. These include endorphins, dopamine, tryptophan and phenylethylamine. Tryptophan, in the presence of magnesium in the body, reacts with selected vitamins to produce serotonin. This hormone of happiness can reduce anxiety and increase stress resilience. It is one of the most important hormones for the body, essential for one's well-being, and regulates the day-night rhythm so that we can sleep peacefully at night and be alert and energetic during the day.

Furthermore, the brown bean is rich in alkaloids such as caffeine and theobromine, which have a mentally stimulating effect and can also increase physical performance. The exact content of caffeine and theobromine varies depending on the variety. Caffeine is known to have a strong stimulating effect, promoting concentration and responsiveness. It also counteracts fatigue, inhibits pain, stimulates metabolism and increases blood pressure. However, theobromine is contained in significantly larger proportions than caffeine. This is an alkaloid that leads to a smoother and longer lasting energy supply. While theobromine can also lead to more mental focus and alertness, at the same time it can lower blood pressure, help bring inner peace and allow for restful sleep.

Kakao als Superfood

COCOA AS A SUPERFOOD EVEN OFFERS A RICH IN VITAMINS

Cocoa contains manyB-complex vitaminssuch as niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2) and pyridoxine (B6). They help regenerate and build muscles, are responsible for the synthesis of enzymes and contribute to the functioning of the nervous system. They also play an important role in metabolic processes.

Other vitamins included are C and E. Vitamin E has an antioxidant effect and protects the body from so-called free radicals. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an essential substance for the body, which it cannot produce itself.

COCOA EVEN OFFERS MINERALS

Furthermore, cocoa is an excellent source of minerals such as selenium, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and manganese, which is why theCocoa is perfect as a superfood.

Cacao is considered one of THE vegetable suppliers of magnesium. Per 100g cacao contains up to 500mg magnesium. An important substance for the function of muscles and brain performance. Physical flexibility can be increased, cramps relieved and menstrual cramps prevented. In addition, the alkaline mineral is important for the remineralization of bones and supports mental well-being. Since magnesium is also important for the formation of red blood cells and energy metabolism, a deficiency often leads to fatigue, nausea, muscle cramps and, in the long term, to an increased risk of osteoporosis and anemia. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Alsocalciumis contained in particularly high quantities, around 160mg in 100g of cocoa. Calcium is important for bone formation, regulates the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction, and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. Athletes in particular need to ensure they consume enough calcium, as it is used up in large quantities during high physical performance and is of great importance for regeneration. Women in particular should ensure they consume enough calcium, as it can alleviate premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and reduce the increased risk of osteoporosis during menopause.

ironis another mineral that is important for the body and is found in cocoa. 100g of cocoa contains a total of 7.3mg. Iron is essential for the respiration of cells, the transport of oxygen and therefore also for the provision of energy. People suffering from iron deficiency often show symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and concentration problems. Since iron should ideally be taken with vitamin C, cocoa offers excellent bioavailability. This mineral is also particularly important for women, as menstruation increases the need for iron.

IS COCOA AS A SUPERFOOD A HIGH-FAT FATTER?

If you take the allegedCocoa as a superfood If you take a closer look at cocoa in its pure, gently processed form, you will immediately notice the high fat content, which makes up around 54% of the cocoa. The reason for this lies in the special nature of ceremonial cocoa. The whole cocoa bean is used for this, including the valuable cocoa butter. This is a very valuable ingredient because it contains a lot of amino acids and vitamins.

With a large proportion of around 40%, the fats contained are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. These also include the valuable omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These fats have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and can contribute to healthy heart function. They are also good for stable nerves and have a positive effect on cognitive performance. A particularly interesting aspect in the context of the fatty acids contained: some of them have an appetite-suppressing effect and stimulate fat burning. They are therefore not only supposed to protect the cardiovascular system, but are also recommended for those wanting to lose weight.

The same applies to the bitter substances contained, they also inhibit the appetite. They attach themselves to intestinal cells, where the body's own GLP-1 hormone is produced, which ensures a natural feeling of satiety. Cravings can also be prevented by bitter substances. Another positive effect is that these substances stimulate the production of gastric and bile juice, so that digestion is promoted. Furthermore, the elimination of bacteria and viruses from the digestive tract is favored. It also activates the pancreas, which is responsible for the production of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

BE A LITTLE IN LOVE 

Another exciting point is that theobromine helps to release endorphins. These are happiness hormones that are also emitted by people in love and provide a feeling of euphoria and bliss.

In this context, the ingredient phenylethylamine (PEA), also known as the 'love molecule', is also interesting. PEA belongs to the biogenic amines and leads to alertness and focus. Responsible for the stimulating effect is the favored release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Thus, cacao can put us in the well-known 'flow state', where we lose ourselves in space and time and block out everything that is happening around us. Moreover, this ingredient can also induce feelings of attraction and euphoria, as we know from a state of being in love.

As you can see, cacao serves to be much more than just nerve food. With its numerous health-promoting ingredients, the natural mood booster is justifiably considered a noble superfood for body, mind, soul and heart.

Sources

Studies

Andújar, MC, Recio, RM & Ríos JL (2012): Cocoa Polyphenols and Their Potential Benefits for Human Health.Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. ArticleID 906252.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/906252

Gratton, G., Weaver, S., Burley, C. et al. (2020): Dietary flavanols improve cerebral cortical oxygenation and cognition in healthy adults.Scientific Reports 10(19409). DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-76160-9

Katz, DL, Doughty, K. & Ali, A. (2011): Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease.Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 15(10). 2779–2811. DOI:10.1089/ars.2010.3697

Rusconi, M. & Conti, A. (2010): Theobroma cacao L., the Food of the Gods: A scientific approach beyond myths and claims.Pharmacological Research 61(1). 5-13. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2009.08.008

Serafini, M., Buqianesi, R., Maiani, G. et. al (2003): Plasma antioxidants from chocolate.Nature 424(1013). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/4241013a

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Published
3rd of June, 2022

Author
Sacha Knoche

Reading time
4 minutes

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