Cacao: The Brain Healthy Superfood

Protective and delicious

What is Cacao?

Cacao is also called cocoa beans, and are actually a seed from the Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao nibs are less refined than chocolate liquor or cocoa powder used to make chocolate. This is why the nibs are more nutritionally potent and are considered a superfood.

Why is it a superfood?

Cacao’s health benefits are rooted in their high flavonoid content. Flavonoids improve health by altering cell-signaling pathways, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Some studies suggest that flavonoids might help prevent cancer as well as brain ailments such as Alzheimer's disease.

What are the other health benefits?

While many people consider cocoa to be a sweet treat, it has been used for centuries by cultures around the world as medicine. Cocoa seed is used for infectious intestinal diseases and diarrhea, asthma, bronchitis, and as an expectorant for lung congestion. The seed coat is used for liver, bladder, and kidney ailments; diabetes; as a tonic; and as a general remedy. Cocoa butter is used for high cholesterol and some people apply cocoa butter to the skin to treat wrinkles and to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

Cacao contains the mood improver, anandamide, known as the bliss molecule, which creates a feeling of euphoria. It is also known to boost brain levels of serotonin, the feel good brain chemical. When women are experiencing PMS serotonin levels drop dramatically. The benefits of the beans are proven to boost the brain levels of calming hormones and restore feelings of well-being.

The flavonoids in cocoa are chemicals that might lower blood pressure and show possible heart health benefits.