The Amazing Healing Power of Raw Cacao: Natural Healing, Inside and Out
by Marike van Breugel
Chocolate has been vilified in western culture as "naughty", "fattening" and "junk food", which really is a very long way from its beginnings as a sacred ritual and healing food.
Thankfully, raw cacao, derived from the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree, has gained recognition in recent years for its numerous health benefits.
Renowned for its rich flavor and use in chocolate production, raw cacao boasts unique properties that make it a remarkable natural healing agent.
Antioxidant Powerhouse: Raw cacao is one of the richest sources of antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols, which help combat oxidative stress in the body. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (1) found that raw cacao exhibits a higher antioxidant capacity compared to processed cocoa due to its minimal processing.
Cardiovascular Health: Research shows that the flavonoids found in raw cacao may support heart health. A review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2) concluded that consuming flavonoid-rich chocolate or cocoa led to a modest reduction in blood pressure. Furthermore, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (3) suggested that raw cacao consumption may help reduce LDL cholesterol oxidation, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
Mood and Brain Function: Raw cacao contains several compounds that can positively affect mood and cognitive function. A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience (4) demonstrated that consuming high-flavanol cacao improved cognitive performance and increased cerebral blood flow. Additionally, raw cacao contains phenylethylamine, which can promote feelings of well-being.
But did you know that Raw Cacao also has amazing properties when used topically for skin healing?
Skin Nourishment and Protection: The antioxidant content in raw cacao can also benefit the skin when applied topically. According to a review article published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences (5), raw cacao can protect the skin against environmental damage by neutralizing free radicals and promoting collagen synthesis, resulting in improved skin elasticity.
Anti-Aging Effects: The flavonoids in raw cacao have anti-aging properties. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition (6) suggested that the consumption of high-flavanol cocoa improved skin structure and function, reducing wrinkles and enhancing hydration. Topical application of raw cacao similar has effects, contributing to a more youthful appearance.
Anti-Inflammatory and Soothing Properties: Raw cacao contains various compounds, such as theobromine and catechins, which possess anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it beneficial for individuals with sensitive or irritated skin. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (7) reported the anti-inflammatory effects of theobromine, potentially aiding in the treatment of skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema.
Cacao is a remarkable natural healer, both when consumed internally and when applied topically to the skin. Its high antioxidant content, cardiovascular benefits, mood enhancement, and skin-nourishing properties make it a versatile and valuable ingredient. While this article provides an overview of raw cacao's healing potential, it is important to consult with a licensed healthcare professional if you have specific health concerns.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: doi.org/10.1021/jf00092a021
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD008893.pub3
British Journal of Nutrition: doi.org/10.1017/S0007114510004765