The Herb Stop Blog
Top 4 Biggest Cacao Health Benefits + How to Add It To Your Life
When we think of cacao beans, many of us immediately picture chocolate wrapped in sparkling silver foil. However, cacao actually comes from a tropical tree and was even used as currency in the Aztec empire.
Cacao is also considered an herb, which may strike you as strange because you’re so used to seeing it in a highly processed product heavy in sugar and light in cacao, such as chocolate.
However, cacao can support your health in many areas, including promoting improved neurological, heart, and skin health when consumed in its purer form. Consuming dark chocolate (70% cacao+) and incorporating cacao in other ways, such as in your morning shakes or tea, can help you reap these health benefits. Keep reading to learn more about cacao's top four health benefits and how you can incorporate this incredible herb into your life.
4 Health Benefits of Cacao
1. Supporting Brain Health & Cognitive Function
If you enjoy the mood boost you get after eating a piece of chocolate, it’s likely no surprise that an even purer form of cacao can pack some incredible mood-boosting benefits.
Cacao beans may boost serotonin and endorphins, which may reduce anxiety and depression and elevate mood.
The notably high levels of flavanols, a natural compound touted for their anti-inflammatory and disease-protective properties, may also protect against brain injuries caused by neurotoxins and promote better cognitive function, learning, and memory abilities. These effects are believed to be a result of cacao’s ability to interact with crucial proteins and lipids and its ability to improve blood flow.
2. Promoting Better Heart Health
Cacao contains large amounts of potassium, which is touted for its heart health benefits, such as reducing body inflammation, reducing stress on cells, and decreasing the risk of heart disease. Recent studies have shown that increased potassium levels may protect against artery hardening, which often leads to severe heart-related health problems. Cacao’s potassium content may also support and protect the body against hypertension caused by excessive sodium intake and decrease the risk of cardiovascular mortality.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Cacao also has a high flavonol content, which may improve circulation and decrease inflammation.
3. Supporting Your Skin’s Health & Appearance
Antioxidants are a critical part of maintaining the health of your skin and endogenous photoprotection. Since cacao is rich in antioxidants, it’s believed to be a great ingredient in skincare products.
One study followed two groups of women and studied the effects of cacao on their skin. Over twelve weeks, one group consumed high-flavanol cocoa powder, while the other consumed low-flavanol cocoa powder. The group that ingested high-flavanol cocoa had increased blood flow, increased skin hydration, and skin density, and the thickness of their skin also increased. The transepidermal water loss also went down in the high-flavanol cocoa group.
The skin’s roughness also diminished in this group, indicating that cacao may contribute to healthier skin in terms of look, texture, and overall hydration.
4. May Promote Weight Loss
Studies have shown that cacao may help with weight loss by improving mitochondrial biogenesis, which enhances muscle glucose uptake. The same study notes that cacao’s antioxidant content may enhance a positive mood and overall cognition.
However, it’s important to note that other studies conclude that consuming cacao through chocolate, even if it’s dark chocolate, may contribute to weight gain due to chocolate’s high-caloric density. So, if you’re interested in pursuing this purported benefit, consider incorporating pure cacao into your diet rather than consuming it through dark chocolate.
How to Incorporate Cacao into Your Life
So, how can you incorporate cacao into your diet and lifestyle to support your body and mind?
Add Cacao to Your Diet:
- Chocolate Mint Rooibos Tea: There are few better combinations than chocolate and mint, and this tea combines both flavors with flair! Our Chocolate Mint Rooibos Tea combines luxury rooibos, peppermint, cacao bean pieces, and calendula petals for a delightful after-dinner digestif or cool-down drink.
- Super Women Power Shake: This is a fantastic shake formula for women looking for a supportive, hormone-balancing formula. This formula includes delicious raw cacao, maca root, wild yam, chaste berry, rhodiola, and eleuthero root to support the hormones and how the body handles stress.
- Chestnut Honeybush Tea: The perfect tea for someone with a sweet tooth! Sweet cacao shells and honeybush meld with a deep chestnut flavor to create this terrific treat.
- Godiva Roche Rooibos Tea: This Rooibos tea has a sweet taste with light earthy and musty notes from the hazelnut pieces. We love the decadent cacao beans and peel, chopped pieces of pure vanilla, and sunflower petals that make this tea something special.
- Jump Start Tea: Need something strongly caffeinated to get you going in the morning? Our Jump Start Tea contains toasted Yerba Mate, black tea, Kola Nots, and cacao nibs for a delicious start.
Add Cacao to Your Skincare to Promote Lush Skin:
- Luscious Exotic Butters Cream: A rich, exotic cream that packs a powerful, moisturizing punch with its base of organic aloe leaf juice, shea butter, and cocoa butter. Fabulous for dry skin anywhere on the face and body!
- Lovers Bath Blend: Enjoy a decadent night with yourself or your loved one with this fragrant chocolate strawberry bath blend. The cacao absolute and roasted cacao shells give this blend a luscious scent.
- Healing Calendula Cream: This cream is the answer for ultra-dry skin. The shea, cocoa, kokum, and mango butter nourish the skin and provide a protective barrier to lock in moisture to promote healing from inflammation, dryness, and more.
We hope today’s piece opened your eyes to the wonders of cacao - beyond its incredible uses in chocolate, of course!
Natalie & Leilah