First, I need to explain the difference between Cocoa and Cacao as it can be a bit confusing, starting with a very similar spelling. These two ingredients have very similar origins, they both start out as beans from the cacao plant and, they are separated from the fatty part known as cocoa butter. The beans are then milled and processed, and that’s how you make both cacao powder and cocoa powder. Here’s what makes them different:
- Cocoa powder: beans are roasted for long periods at high temperatures, which changes the molecular structure of the bean, lowering its naturally abundant nutritional value.
- Cacao powder: beans are processed at low temperatures and are considered raw, which means that it contains a much higher amount of enzymes, minerals, and nutrients. But it's still highly processed to commercial standards, meaning that many living enzymes, healthy fat and most of the subtle energetic properties of cacao have been destroyed.
- Ceremonial-grade cacao: has minimum tampering, maintaining the integrity of the beans. They're lightly roasted or sun-dried, de-shelled (usually by hand) and ground on a stone grinder forming a paste that is set into a block. Nothing added, nothing removed. The bean's fat remains intact, helping to balance its stimulating properties and facilitate absorption over a longer period. This is cacao in its pure, traditional form.
It is also interesting to know that not all beans are the same, there are two main varieties of cacao trees, the Criollo and Forastero. The Forastero has been traditionally bred for sweetness and industrial farming, it's great for commercial chocolate. The Criollo is a wild strain that is less hardy and milder in taste, it also has a higher concentration of health-restoring and consciousness-altering compounds making it ideal for ceremonial cacao.
Now that you have a better understanding of what Cacao is and comes from let's get into why it's so popular. To start with, Cacao is not only delicious but extraordinarily healthy! Unlike coffee, which stimulates the nervous system leaving you on alertness state, ceremonial cacao stimulates the cardiovascular system leaving you feeling content. Also, the ceremonial cacao has a high concentration of health-restoring and consciousness-altering compounds such as:
- Phenylethylamine (PEA): the “love chemical”, the one you release when you fall in love. It has a natural antidepressant effect and can help lift your mood and increase focus and alertness.
- Theobromine: the chemical that boosts endorphins, your brain's pleasure chemicals. Endorphins help reduce anxiety and give you a sense of wellbeing.
- Anandamide: the "bliss chemical", the one that leaves you feeling great after drinking cacao.
- Serotonin and tryptophan: both have been linked to reduced symptoms of depression. They also promote better sleep which is also associated with better mood.
Not to mention that cacao can also replenish minerals vital to your body, such as magnesium, calcium, zinc & iron.
But its popularity is all about the heart-opening sensation that helps you to go deeper within, to get to know yourself better. Strengths your connection to your higher self, which helps you connect to your inner power, strength, and truth. Ceremonial Cacao is a powerful loving tool for self-knowledge and awareness it brings expansive sensations that open the doors of your mind and body. You'll feel deeply connected with life.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about Cacao and that you feel ready to try this delicious heart-opening drink.
Love & Light