Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
With all the nutritional news coming out of the White House these days, I only have one thing to say to Michelle Obama, “There is no evidence to implicate cacao bean consumption with obesity.” Cacao beans contain no sugar and only between 12 and 50% fat depending on variety and growth conditions.
Cacao is remarkably rich in sulfur and magnesium. In fact, the nutritional aspects of cacao show the beans to be the number one source of magnesium of any food. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during certain times of the month. Magnesium is known to balance brain chemistry, builds strong bones and is associated with increased happiness. What’s more, magnesium is the most deficient major mineral in the Standard American Diet—with over 80% of Americans chronically deficient in Magnesium!
Cacao is also high in the “beauty” mineral sulfur. Sulfur builds strong nails, hair, shiny skin, detoxifies the liver and supports healthy pancreas functions. Anecdotal reports indicate that cacao consumption can detoxify mercury because it is so high in sulfur content.
Cacao contains small amounts of natural caffeine and theobromine. However, experiments have shown that these stimulants are far different when consumed raw than when processed.
Cacao seems to diminish appetite, probably due to its monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors). These are different from human digestive enzyme inhibitors found in most nuts and seeds. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MAO inhibitors also facilitate staying younger longer and even have powers of rejuvenation. Does this mean a chocolate fountain is the fountain of youth? Well, the jury is still out on this claim.
Phenyethylamine (PEA) is found in chocolate. PEA is an adrenal-related chemical compound that is also created within the brain and released when we are in love. This is one of the reasons why love and chocolate have a deep correlation. PEA also plays a role in increasing one’s focus and alertness.
Recently, a neurotransmitter called anandamide has been isolated in cacao. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the brain. Anandamide is known as the “Bliss Chemical” because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies’ ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that the natural cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel better longer when we eat chocolate.
And don’t be so worried about chocolate allergies. A recent study showed that only 1 out of 500 people who thought they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive. Allergies to chocolate are quite rare. It is typically that the person is in fact allergic to nuts, milk and dairy products rather than chocolate.
So, you see there are lots of great reasons to include chocolate in a well balanced diet. At Choclatique, we all enjoy an Ingot or two a day of Q-91, our functional chocolate that is low in sugar and has many of the health benefit listed above.