We all love cacao and its effect on us. But what is actually on a physical level in this wonderful plant? Are there substances that can be proven and that give our scientific mind answers as to why cacao works the way it does?
With over 300 active ingredients, the cacao bean is considered to be one of the most nutritious fruits in the world!
The famous natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt wrote: "No other time has nature squeezed such an abundance of the most valuable nutrients into such a small space as in the case of the cacao bean."
Cacao is a true miracle of nature. Because cacao works on so many different levels, we love working with Ritual Cacao.
As a former strong head person and business graduate, it is extremely satisfying for me that the effects of cacao can be explained scientifically. At the same time, I'm also happy about the fact that some effects of cacao can probably never be explained logically ;-)
But let's start with the researched ingredients and active ingredients in cacao and their effects on the human body. It is important to mention that we will of course not go into all 300 substances, but rather those that are present in cacao in relevant quantities and that are most exciting for us.
How does cacao affect the physical body?
Let's start with the antioxidants . They slow down or prevent the oxidation of other substances. Increased oxidative degradation in the body means physical stress that can cause cancer and inflammation and accelerate cell aging. The antioxidants contained in cacao can prevent this. That said, cacao can help you relax, prevent inflammation, and may have a positive impact on the aging process. Cacao contains more antioxidants than many fruits, e.g. cranberries, grapes, pomegranates etc.
Hardly any other plant-based food contains more magnesium than cacao. Cacao contains up to 500 mg per 100 g. Nuts are far behind with around 200 mg. Magnesium promotes heart health, has a muscle-relaxing and antispasmodic effect, supports bone formation and the regulation of metabolism.
Iron, which is important for blood formation, is also contained in cacao in a considerable amount at 7.3 mg per 100 g.
The high calcium content (160 mg per 100 g) in cacao supports the transmission of muscle and nerve signals and can improve bone formation and maintenance. The mineral is also important for teeth and blood clotting.
The fat in cacao, known as cacao butter, is considered particularly valuable. It's high in monounsaturated fats , which can support healthy heart function and increase levels of desired types of cholesterol.
There are initial studies at universities in Maastricht, Düsseldorf and Cologne that show: cacao even seems to be a better energy drink than many commercially available sports drinks. According to the research results, cacao is better suited for replenishing storage and for regeneration after intensive sports units than most commercially available drinks and, of course, better than water. Magnesium and calcium in cacao can help the body regenerate faster. Cacao is rich in protein for muscle building and flavonols . These not only keep the vessels supple, but can also improve the performance of athletes and promote heart health.
What effect does cacao have on our psyche?
The effect of cacao on our psyche should not be underestimated either. It is valued by many people for its awakening, mood-lifting and happiness-producing effects.
First there is theobromine , which acts on our nervous system in a similar way to caffeine and has a stimulating effect. It widens the blood vessels and can thus serve to improve the oxygen supply. Here, among other things, more oxygen-enriched blood is pumped into the heart, so the often described opening of the heart also occurs on physical levels. You feel pleasantly awake, but without the drop in energy that you may be familiar with from drinking coffee. As a result, cacao invigorates and can work in a pleasant and, above all, healthy way. 100% cacao mass contains approximately 18-35 mg/g theobromine. It should be mentioned that cacao also contains caffeine. A cup of cacao contains just 25 mg of caffeine. There is between 50-175 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee. (You can find more information about this in the blog article "Cacao vs. Coffee - Which Kicks Better?".)
The polyunsaturated fatty acid anandamide affects the parts of the brain that are responsible for the feeling of happiness and pleasure. It binds to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This is one of the reasons why cacao has also been known as an aphrodisiac for centuries.
Amino acids play a special role as neurotransmitters . Endorphin , dopamine , serotonin and its precursor tryptophan increase well-being and make you feel happy. Serotonin is not contained in cacao itself, but it is produced in the body through the breakdown of tryptophan. This can increase serotonin levels, release endorphins and activate your brain's reward system.
The flavonoids found in cacao can promote brain health and activity. They also address the learning center of the brain. Epicatechin, the main flavonoid in cacao, has been shown to sharpen perception and focus while preserving cognitive abilities.
As described above, there are many verifiable active substances and ingredients in cacao.
But what about the non-measurable effects of cacao? Here one also speaks of the magical or spiritual side of cacao .
The magical side of cacao
Many people independently describe similar experiences after drinking cacao. For example, making them feel like they are being held and not alone. This probably also coined the term " Mama Kakao ". In addition, it is said again and again that cacao can bring feelings up. These range from joy to anger to sadness. Some people see images from their childhood, while others have better access to their inner being and their intuition with the help of cacao. The type of cacao experience is as varied as people themselves. Cacao always gives you what you need.
It is not scientifically possible to explain why people have such different and varied experiences with cacao.
There are clearly provable ingredients and active ingredients and at the same time this millennia-old plant brings with it so much magic that cannot be explained with the mind. In this context, one often speaks of the so-called cacao spirit.
What exactly is the cacao spirit?
This is the spirit of the plant. Every living being has a spirit, a soul. For many indigenous peoples, cacao has a feminine power. The Teacherplants, to which cacao belongs, would like to share their knowledge and wisdom with us. Before every cacao ritual, we invite the cacao spirit to share its knowledge with us and to guide us.
The cacao spirit speaks to you through your heart and your feelings. He invites you to connect - with yourself, with others and with nature.
You can only recognize the spiritual effect cacao has on you and your heart through self-awareness.
Cacao has so many wonderful properties on different levels that it is definitely worth trying :-)