Composition of Cacao
One of the most wildly popular trees on the planet is the cacao, the plant species from which cocoa – and chocolate – is derived. While some might think cacao and cocoa are one in the same, they’re not, exactly. Cacao is the tree, while cocoa is the product made from it Edible parts of cacao pods and the beans inside them can be processed to make cocoa powder, cocoa butter, or chocolate after being dried and fermented.
Health benefits of Cacao
Cacoa protects the brain from damage, improves memory and focus and reduces stress.
Consuming cocoa flavanols lowers blood pressure, increases flow-mediated vasodilation and improves blood cholesterol profile. Countless beneficial nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fibre and essential fatty acids – they’re also the richest dietary source of magnesium on the planet. Cacao beans are a powerful natural remedy for high blood pressure.
History of Cacao
Because cocoa beans were prized for their medicinal and aphrodisiacal properties, they were traded just like currency among ancient South American civilizations. Rumor has it Casanova was fond of them.
The earliest known evidence that cacao was processed for ingestion goes back as far as 1,400 B.C.E., gathered from discoveries of its residue on pottery excavated in Honduras, possibly to ferment the pulp for making an adult beverage. Sweetened forms came about when the Europeans landed in the New World and tasted cacao in liquid form. Although they hated it at first, someone discovered that adding honey made it downright palatable. By the 17th century, this form of chocolate was all the rage in Europe, and subsequently, the world. It still is.