Cacao benefits | Cacao health | Cacao nutrition | Cacao sports | Ceremonial cacao
Pure, Ceremonial Grade Cacao is one of the most complex, nutrient-dense superfoods on earth. A true powerhouse containing the highest concentration of antioxidants, magnesium, chromium, manganese, and theobromine from any other food in the world, it is also a phenomenal source of zinc, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and fiber.
This extraordinary nutrient and mineral profile has not gone unnoticed by nutritional experts, health-seekers, and the growing community of people pursuing what is called biohacking. From cardiovascular health and blood flow to cognitive function and beyond, Cacao is gaining recognition for supporting numerous functions and for its many benefits to our bodies and lives. Cacao may well be biohacking's best ally!
A broad definition of biohacking is the attempt to fuse science with self-experimentation to optimize one's physiology – often with an end goal of increasing longevity, energy, and an overall sense of well-being. It is an attempt to optimize and "upgrade" one's mind and body.
On a fundamental level, biohacking comes down to the desire to feel better — and to see just how far the human body can be pushed. It is a desire that may stem and range from not wanting to be sick anymore to becoming as intelligent and strong as possible for as long as possible.
Although it can involve wearable technology, implant technology, and even genetic engineering, biohacking both body and brain inevitably starts with diet, exercise, and mindfulness exercises. Meditation, intermittent fasting, and supplements are part of every biohacker's essential arsenal. Ceremonial Grade Cacao may be the most powerful of these resources. Let's take a look at why.
Any attempt to optimize your body's nutrition intake and keep it at peak performance involves antioxidants! Antioxidants are primarily known for their role in reducing free radicals in the body, which in turn slows cellular damage and therefore aging of the body! The best sources of antioxidants are plant-based foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Cacao has one of the highest contents of antioxidants — even higher than blueberries, which are known as an antioxidant powerhouse. Specifically, Cacao has amazingly high levels of vitamin A, C, E, and beta-carotene, all of which contribute to reducing cellular aging. Because these antioxidants are known to reduce oxidative stress at a cellular level, their positive effects on the human body can go far beyond that which meets the eye.
In addition to its strong antioxidant profile, Cacao is more abundant in flavanols and theobromine than any other plant-based source. Flavanols are a specific class of flavonoids that help increase nitric oxide production. This chemical compound acts as a vasodilator that helps to dilate blood vessels, increase blood flow, and lower oxygen consumption. Operating in conjunction with theobromine, they relax blood vessels, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure. This makes Cacao an ideal biohacking tool for improving blood circulation and cardiovascular health.
Theobromine is a gentle, long-lasting cardiovascular stimulant found almost exclusively in Cacao. It is what gives dark chocolate its bitter taste and is the compound that makes chocolate poisonous to dogs. Though not a good treat for animals, theobromine has incredible benefits for the human body! This alkaloid helps to elevate mood and energy without over-stimulating the nervous system like caffeine can do. This enables a steady flow of energy and, in combination with the other nutrients and fatty acids present, it helps to prevent the "crash" that one might experience with other caffeine-based stimulants, like coffee. Though a small amount of caffeine is also present in Cacao, a good quality Ceremonial Grade Cacao, like Keith's Cacao, will have significantly and consistently more theobromine than caffeine.
Increased blood flow and better circulation contribute to elevated energy levels, promoting our creativity, work output, and physical endurance. This brings us to the next area of life that one might consider biohacking with Cacao.
Cacao is now becoming a topic of interest in the world of athletics for its potential to act as a natural pre-workout. Not only because it provides a boost of energy, as noted above, but also because it has direct positive effects on the muscles as well! One of the more abundant minerals in Cacao is potassium, which helps the body to maintain fluid balance, muscular contraction, and cardiovascular function. Furthermore, as flavanols, theobromine, and arginine promote the body's natural production of nitric oxide, Cacao helps stimulate blood flow to the muscles and may also contribute to increasing muscular endurance.
When it comes to recovery, the high amounts of magnesium in Cacao make it phenomenal for relaxing smooth muscle tissue and the body in general. The magnesium in Cacao is actually found in the Cacao butter – which is often removed when Cacao is processed into store-bought chocolate, thus losing its benefits. Studies show that 50% of Americans and Europeans are deficient in magnesium – a shockingly high amount for a nutrient that is involved in over 600 different functions in the body! Magnesium, which also helps promote bone health, heart health, mental clarity, and focus, is vital in preventing Type 2 diabetes thanks to its role in metabolizing glucose and sugar. Due to its relaxing effect on the body, magnesium also plays an important role in relieving constipation, PMS, and anxiety.
Looking to increase your omega intake and improve cholesterol health? Ceremonial Grade Cacao might be your new best friend! Cacao butter features a combination of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that has been shown to help lower the risk of heart disease) as well as stearic acid and palmitic acid. Steric acid is converted to oleic acid in the liver, and while palmitic acid has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, its presence is neutralized by the other fatty acids in Cacao. In addition to positive heart health benefits, Cacao appears to lower LDL levels ("bad" cholesterol carriers) but not HDL ("good" cholesterol carriers).
When it comes to biohacking, nootropics ("smart drugs") are all the rage. Though this can refer to prescription medications, the term "nootropic" applies to any substance (natural or otherwise) that is used to increase cognitive function. In this way, Cacao can be seen as the "natural nootropic."
Cacao is known for its psychoactive properties, meaning that it has a direct effect on how the brain works and can alter mood, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. However, Cacao is NOT a psychedelic or hallucinogen, so it will not impair brain functioning in a way that interferes with daily life.
Cacao contains PEA (phenylethylamine), which is also referred to as the "love" chemical or "chocolate amphetamine." PEA increases dopamine production in the brain, enhances attentiveness, and elevates mood.
Cacao also contains an endogenous cannabinoid called anandamide, known as the "bliss" chemical. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is produced naturally in the body, which binds readily to cannabinoid receptors and targets the same brain structures as THC (important for memory, motivation, and pleasure). This makes us feel a blissful "body high" upon consuming Cacao. Cacao also contains anandamide inhibitors that slow down the breakdown of anandamide in the body, in turn prolonging the blissful effects over time.
Cacao also contains monoamine oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs maintain mood-altering neurotransmitters in the brain by ensuring they aren't processed too quickly. Monoamine oxidase itself metabolizes serotonin and dopamine. Therefore blocking (or inhibiting) MAO can help reduce depression. However, the tyramine in Cacao contraindicates MAOI-based antidepressants. Therefore SSRI-based antidepressants and antipsychotics may be contraindicated. If you are taking either, please contact your doctor before attempting to biohack with Cacao to ensure you are not causing mayhem within your body.