When the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés came to Mexico in 1519, he was mistaken for a God (a bad mistake, as it turned out soon after). The Aztec king Montezuma generously welcomed Cortés with a cup of chocolatl – the drink made of cacao beans was a very popular at the time. Montezuma used to consume up to 50 cups of it and Cortés confirmed it´s highly energizing quality.
The popular chocolate bars we know today are only loosely related to the original, raw organic cacao. I do not recommend that you eat great amounts of chocolate just to get the cacao content. The cacao used in chocolate bars is processed and chemically treated to an extent that is has lost most of its highly beneficial qualities and provides you with nothing more than extra fat and sugar.
Cacao is the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate. It´s not sweet and buttery like the chocolate you’re more familiar with. Cacao is actually bitter. But we’re not looking for pleasant taste here – we want the brain benefits. Which it has plenty. Cacao is a universal health promoter that protects not only a person’s mental functions but also one’s skin and heart. It´s untreated seeds can be considered a super-food offering a wide range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Cacao beans grow on trees called ‘Theobroma cacao’, which translates to “cacao, the food of the Gods” in Greek. They grow mostly in Central and South America. One cacao pod that emerges from the tree will yield between 40 and 60 cacao seeds. After the pods are harvested and opened, the seeds are removed and undergo a natural fermentation process. Then, after drying for ten days, the result is raw cacao beans.
At this stage, all the valuable nutrients are still present in the bean. But in the process of making chocolate, most of them get lost. The raw cacao beans are roasted to produce ‘cocoa’, then sugar and fats are added until there is little left of the beans.
The best way to get the benefits of this ancient health food is to mix cacao powder into any of your drinks like coffee, hot water or milk. Never mind the bitter taste. Just think about how the cacao will help your thinking process in the long run!
You will find more tips on brain foods in the “Increasing Your Brain Power” eBook.