“The ancient people of Central America, the Mayans and Aztecs, believed this plant could impart immortality”
I have a confession: I don’t chocolate. It’s waaay too heavy. It’s too rich. I don’t like that it melts all over itself. It makes my mouth taste weird after I eat it. I don’t crave it, and I don’t like when I’m at dinner with a group of people and they pick “Triple-Layer-Death-by-Chocolate Cake” as the shared group dessert. I would much prefer a bowl of mixed berries with some whipped cream on top.
However I’m extremely interested in health and enhancing performance both physically and mentally. Being surrounded by Naturopathic Physicians and health professionals for the past four years has exposed to some interesting facts about health and nutrition. One of the things I learned is that there really isn’t such a thing as “superfoods,” but there is one baking ingredient that when taken in your diet can have some major benefits.
What is this baking ingredient? Well, let’s just say it’s caused my feelings surrounding chocolate to change.
What Is It?
Okay, so it’s not exactly the chocolate you’re thinking of. It’s raw, organic cocoa powder (from the plant Theobroma cacoa), and it’s the ingredient that makes chocolate chocolate. Mix it with a bunch of sugar and milk and other addictive shit and you have yourself a Hersey’s Kiss.
**NOTE: All these benefits that will follow are for 100% organic cocoa powder (you can get this at pretty much any health food store or grocer). Something like 85% dark chocolate is the next best, and milk chocolate is the worst. As you add milk and decrease the percent of pure cocoa the benefits decrease.
What Are The Benefits?
Okay, so what are the benefits of this super-ingredient? Below, I have listed ways that cocoa can improve your health and your life.
It Can Put You In A Better Mood:
Cocoa has a chemical in it called phenyethlamine (PEA), which is the chemical in chocolate that makes dogs sick, but gives humans a feeling of euphoria. This PEA releases a bunch of endorphins in the human brain, like serotonin and dopamine that gives us a sense of wellbeing.
It Can Help You Focus:
When college students take the study drug Adderall, dopamine and serotonin flood the brain causing an increase in motivation, focus, and alertness. Well, PEA causes a mild release of those same brain chemicals without all the excess crap that is put in pharmaceutical drugs. Research also shows that cocoa can help oxygenate the brain, which can help us think more clearly, and have a better brain.
It Can Improve Sexy Time:
When you consume cocoa, it activates pleasure centers in the brain and increases blood flow to all body parts, including the genitals. Remember how dopamine and PEA flood the brain when we consume cocoa? Well those same chemicals flood the brain when you fall in love or have an orgasm, making cocoa act as an aphrodisiac.
It Can Improve Your Health:
Dr. Jade and Keoni Teta, authors of Lose Weight Here, Naturopathic Physicians, and my some of my closet friends, use cocoa in their health clinic for their patients in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
They have found that cocoa can reduce cravings for large tubs of popcorn and ice cream sandwiches, and increase that feeling of satisfaction. Through their research and experience, they have found that “habitual cocoa intake lowers blood pressure via its high arginine content and the nitric oxide pathway, and helps immune function, cognition, and detoxification.
The Kuna people of San Blas live off the coast of Panama, and are habitual cocoa drinkers (the drink, on average, 5 cups per day!) rarely have health conditions that plaque the United States like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke.
Why? Cocoa is jam-packed with antioxidant-rich phytonutrients. Antioxidants help kill off free radicals that we are exposed to everyday like smog and your roommate’s flatulence.
“Natives to Central and South America believed it could cure fatigue, indigestion, emaciation, and hemorrhoids to respiratory ailments, cancer, depression, and heart problems.” Super-food? Yes, I think so.
It Can Help With Your Workouts:
Cocoa can increase Nitric Oxide production, which is what many workout goons consume in their pre-workout drinks. Nitric Oxide increases blood flow during workouts, which leads to more blood to your muscles, which causes your muscles to work harder, which eventually leads to more muscle.
It Can Help You Relax:
Ironically, it can help you get up for sex or a workout, AND it can help you chill out. Cocoa releases serotonin in the brain, which helps you relax. It is also packed with magnesium, which along with zinc and vitamin B6, is the number one micronutrient we cash-out while under stress. Not only that, check out what other compounds it contains to help you relax:
- Tyramine – reduce anxiety and balances mood
- Anandamide – This chemical binds to the same receptor sites in the brain as THC. Yep the same thing found in marijuana. It is no wonder that cocoa has the reputation of being an antidepressant, aphrodisiac and a calming stimulant. It’s like smoking a blunt. Sorta.
How To Use It:
- Make sure it’s organic. The cocoa bean can be one of the most heavily sprayed crops.
- Take a large, heaping tablespoon of the raw cocoa powder and mix with hot water, and there you have yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa
- Try Metabolic Effect’s new Craving Cocoa: http://pa136.infusionsoft.com/aff.html?to=http://www.metaboliceffect.com/product/craving-cocoa-1-time/
Teta, Jade ND. “Is This Common Baking Ingredient The Next Performance Enhancer.” Metabolic Effect. 14 March 2012. <http://www.metaboliceffect.com/is-this-common-baking-ingredient-the-next-performance-enhancer/>
Teta, Keoni ND, LAc. Sarno Teta, Jillian ND. “Cocoa: Benefits For Health, Fitness, & Fat Loss.” Metabolic Effect. 7 September 2011. <http://www.metaboliceffect.com/cocoa/>
Sarno Teta, Jillian ND. “Is This Common Baking Ingredient The Next Performance Enhancer.” Metabolic Effect. 21 January 2009. <http://www.metaboliceffect.com/bust-your-cravings-with-cocoa-and-other-tips-from-the-craving-queen/>
The Kuna People: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuna_people