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The Science of Raw Cacao

What makes raw chocolate so amazing and unique? Why is everyone talking about the health benefits of chocolate?

We’ve taken a break from eating chocolate to answer these questions.

Anti-oxidants: Raw chocolate contains more anti-oxidants than any other food, with an ORAC score of approximately 13,000 per 100g, which is more than blueberries, red wine, goji berries and pomegranates COMBINED. Because of the high levels of anti-oxidants, Cacao has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve overall heart function and circulation, and is associated with anti-aging and longevity.

Magnesium: is key for relaxation and healing of the muscles throughout the entire body. Magnesium fights acid buildup, neutralizes toxins, calms sensitivity to pain, quiets nerves, builds strong bones and teeth and is essential for many other functions. Over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in magnesium. Cacao is said to be the highest magnesium containing food on the planet.

Theobromine and Caffeine: Our 28g bars of chocolate contain 1%-4% the amount of caffeine as a 10oz cup of coffee. Cacao’s minimal caffeine content is often confused with a similar alkaloid, theobromine. Caffeine is said to be a nervous system stimulant, whereas theobromine is a cardiovascular stimulant, increasing heart function and blood flow and has about one quarter the stimulating power of caffeine. Cacao contains about twice as much theobromine than caffeine.

Serotonin: As well as containing serotonin, raw Cacao also boosts the body’s natural production of serotonin, increasing our mood and ability to fend off stress. Magnesium and tryptophan, both necessary chemicals for the production of serotonin, are contained in raw Cacao. Tryptophan is heat-volatile and therefore non-existent in cooked chocolate or a cooked food diet, making raw chocolate an excellent way to obtain dietary tryptophan and maintain sufficient levels of the stress balancing serotonin.

-PEA, the love molecule: PEA, or phenylethylamine, is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body when we fall in love. It is contained in high amounts in raw Cacao and is one of the main reasons Cacao is associated with Valentine’s day and as a gift for lovers. PEA is heat-sensitive and is only present in unroasted, uncooked, raw Cacao.

-Anandamide: In Sanskrit, Ananda means ‘bliss’, making this the ‘bliss chemical’. Anandamide is a neorotransmitter that has been isolated in Cacao, and is released naturally in the brain when we are feeling happy. Aside from containing Anandamide, Cacao also contains enzyme inhibitors, which inhibit the breakdown of anandamide in the body, thus increasing its uptake and contributing to sensations of ‘bliss’ associated with raw Cacao.

-Chromium: Nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in chromium, an important trace mineral found in Cacao which helps to balance blood sugar.

-Zinc: Zinc plays a critical role in the immune system, liver, pancreas, and skin. Additionally, zinc is involved in thousands of enzymatic reactions throughout the human body. Cacao is a great source of zinc, especially for those on a plant-based-diet. Other great sources include pumpkin seeds and spinach.

-MAO inhibitors: As well as containing neurotransmitters, cacao also contains chemicals called MAO-inhibitors that inhibit the recycling and digestion of these very same neurotransmitters in the body’s digestive tract. In short, raw Cacao has neurotransmitters AND the chemicals necessary to ensure these neurotransmitters are absorbed into the body and reach the brain. For those familiar with Ayahuasca, a sacred shamanic hallucinogenic brew,  it is made by brewing a plant containing the neurotransmitter DMT (the psychoactive), with a plant containing MAO-inhibitors, which allows the DMT to be absorbed and the effects to be felt. Cacao, unlike this famous brew, is unique in nature as it has the full package of both neurotransmitters as well as MAO-inhibitors. Though it’s effects aren’t as significant as Ayahuasca, of course, this interesting combination of MAO inhibitors to neurotransmitters points towards some of the mystery and magic that this plant has been imbued with over centuries of ancient shamanic tradition.


Mexico City – Palacio Nacional. Mural by Diego Rivera showing the life in Aztec times, i.e., the city of Tenochtitlan.


2 thoughts on “The Science of Raw Cacao

  1. […] cacao has a very exotic & immense nutritional profile, boasting more magnesium than any other food save hemp seeds. Magnesium is ubiquitous in the human […]

  2. […] – Processed Sugar Free: Chocolate is well known to balance blood pressure. However, processed sugars are known to increase blood pressure. So if you want the heart and vascular benefits of real chocolate, avoid the chocolate with high amounts of processed sugars. Opt for low amounts of mineral rich, unprocessed sugars with dark chocolate so you can enjoy the positive benefits of cacao. […]

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