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    Revealing The Magic of Chocolate - Part II: Love & Bliss

    A food that makes you happy, that stimulates your brain. A food that makes you fall in love and keeps your heart in perfect working order. Pure fantasy? No...Cacao! Especially when it's raw, as in our chocolate. This amazing bean was used in the shamanic rituals of the Mayans in order to attune the mind with the cosmos. It acts as a sort of enabler, allowing the brain to harness and extend the power of substances taken in conjunction with it. Yet it also works in tandem with the body, helping to facilitate the absorption of other nutrients. If you consume cacao with Maca, for example, you'll absorb the Maca's nutrients a lot more readily than when you eat it by itself. Cacao's latent ability to absorb and assimilate is truly incredible...but what really transcends the incredible, taking cacao into the realm of the magical, are the chemicals of emotion. 

     

    Chemicals of Emotion

    We're talking about anandamide. Named after the sanskrit word ananda, this means “bliss”, which is why it's often known as the “bliss chemical”. Anandamide is part of the cannabinoid family and occurs naturally in cacao. It also occurs naturally in our bodies. Studies have shown that people who are generally happy have a lot of anandamide in their system. When they're happier, they have even more.

    Likewise, cacao contains phenylethylamine, or PEA, known as the “love chemical”. Again, this occurs naturally in our systems, but when people are in love, they produce more PEA. It also contains serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel good, and epicatechin, which helps reverse the effects of depression, improve immunity and combat the effects of stress.

    All of these substances exist in cacao in quantities high enough to have a strong effect on us. What's more, when you consume cacao, you're not only getting more of these great phytonutrients, but you're getting them for longer because of something called MOA inhibitors. Ongoing research is showing that they prevent the breakdown of these phytonutrients, so the love-bliss continues for even longer!

     

    Loving Heart
    Raw cacao can be thought of as the perfect natural cocktail for the heart. It's full of magnesium - probably the most defficient mineral in modern Western culture. Magnesium is critical for the muscles, and the major muscle in our body is our heart. Another factor which makes chocolate so vital for your heart is its theobromine content. Theobromine (taken from the latin name for cacao, “theo” and “brosi” meaning “food of the Gods”) is a stimulant which occurs only in chocolate. It's similar to caffeine, though it has a lesser impact on the central nervous system and stimulates the heart to a greater degree. From the 1890s to the 1930s, heart-attack patients were injected with straight theobromine to save their lives. More recently, it's even been identified as one of the compounds contributing to chocolate's reputed role as an aphrodisiac.

    New research presented at the 2011 European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris found that high levels of chocolate consumption could cut a person's chances of developing heart problems by more than one third. The findings were published online by the British Medical Journal and follow previous studies which demonstrate chocolate's ability to reduce blood pressure, improve brain function and lower cholesterol. Researchers from the University of Cambridge who conducted studies on over 100,000 participants found that “high chocolate consumption was associated with about a third decrease in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders [heart problems] - 37 per cent in the case of any cardiovascular disease and 29 per cent in the case of stroke prevention.”

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    Stay Young

    As if it weren't enough that eating chocolate makes you feel happier and be healthier, it can also make you look better! Raw Chocolate is one of the highest natural sources of antioxidants such as flavanols and polyphenols, which stop the oxidation of our cells and keeps us vibrant. Oxidation is basically the ageing process; our cells oxidise and deteriorate and that's how we get old. It's a bit like how metals go rusty. As our systems start to decay, antioxidants essentially retard that process. They scavenge free radicals, which are oxidising agents, so that the cells in our organs and our skin remain more vibrant and youthful. Vitamin C is an antioxidant: it helps reinvigorate the system if you're sick.

    Raw chocolate, without sugar or dairy in it, speeds up metabolism and works as an appetite suppressant, so it can - theoretically - help you manage your weight. What's really special about our raw chocolate is that it's 100% vegan organic, meaning that all of these great minerals and nutrients are preserved as intact as they possibly can be. In fact, our raw chocolate has been independently tested by Southern Cross University to have up to twice the antioxidants of conventionally processed chocolate; the ORAC score is a comparative scale for measuring the antioxidant content of different foods. And when your source of antioxidants are organically grown whole foods, your body just can't get enough of them!

    Next week we'll tell you all about how our cacao is grown and processed!

    Continue to Part III: Cacao & Biodiversity

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