Cacao (or cocoa) fruit is native to Colombia. Chocolate is derived from the seeds (or pods) of the cacao.
Cacao trees are delicate plants that live in the tropical forests and require other, taller trees to shelter them from wind and sun.
The fruit is a big pod that forms directly on the trunk and older growth of the tree.
It kind of looks like a squash and smells like one too.
It is considered a ‘super food’ due to the high density of essential nutrients, very few side effects and proven health benefits, the beans are also made into cocoa butter which is used to make toiletries, ointments and many pharmaceutical products.
The cacao bean is full of antioxidants, fat, carbohydrates, protein, polyphenols like flavonoids that are antioxidants, minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium, oleic acid which is a heart-healthy essential monounsaturated fat, fiber and vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9 and a small amount of vitamin C and A.
Fiber content in cacao fruit is beneficial for digestion by increasing digestive enzyme production.
Fiber content keeps you feeling full for longer. This controls appetite and helps promote weight loss.
It can strengthen cell membrane integrity, boost memory power, improve functioning of the heart, circulatory system and brain, increase energy levels, reduce inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and helps to moisturize the skin.
Cacao also contains tryptophan, an amino acid responsible in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Increased serotonin can cause elevated mood, and reduce the amount of stress hormones produced in the body.
Cacao stimulates the production of other endorphins as well, which can elevate mood and account for the feeling of giddiness.
It can also assist in regulating heart beat and blood pressure levels, lowers bad cholesterol and improve the good, reduces the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Balances blood sugar and helps to fight cavities.