Our cacao adventure started with the fascination about the effect that cacao has on our body and mind. Where the chocolate world focuses mostly on taste (and which is very important) the health benefits and effects of cacao remain underexposed. Most of our inspiration comes from traditional uses by old native cultures like the Mayas and Aztecs. We combine this with research and own experiences and enjoy sharing more about the active ingredients of cacao.
One of the most known active ingredients in cacao is theobromine. This alkaloid is from the same family as cafeïne, but works differently. Theobromine gives you energy, increases your heart rate and dilates your blood vessels at the same time, increasing circulation. This enables your body to better uptake and spread nutrients throughout your body. This is also why cacao combines so well with various superfoods. For many people theobromine has a more pleasant effect than caffeine because it has a more sustainable calm energy without the dip.
Cacao contains MAO-inhibitors that inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin. This increases your serotonin level, one of our main happiness neurotransmitters that also plays an important role against stress. Cacao also contains tryptophan which your body needs to create more serotonin. In a similar way dopamine (pleasure and motivation) and noradrenaline (happiness and antidepressant) are stimulated.
Another interesting ingredient is anandamide, also known as the ‘bliss-molecule’ (ananda = ‘bliss’ in Sanskrit). This neurotransmitter is being released more and is responsible for the ‘runner’s high’ effect, modulated pain perception and regulates our mood.
Phenethylamine (PEA) occurs in our bodies naturally and functions as an antidepressant. It stimulates focus, energy and different happiness hormones, comparable to when we fall in love or have sex. PEA brings us in a focussed flow that alters our time perception and is a great support for work, meditation and creativity.
Also cacao contains many antioxidants, minerals and healthy fats. Pure chocolate is advised in a balanced diet, but even better to use high quality cacao without sugar in a delicious drink :-).
This sums up the most known and important effects of cacao. Because it’s such a complex type of food much remains unknown as well. It explains why cacao has such a nice and positive effect and is a healthy source of food at the same time.