Cacao and chocolate

Cacao was already cultivated by the Mayan civilisation over 2500 years ago and introduced in Europe after Columbus discovered America.

Cacao and its derivatives are the sources of highest concentrations of procyanids, flavonoids, catechins, epicatechins that exists. These substances limit the growth of tumour cells and avoid metastasis.

Cacao is one of the most antioxidant food due to its high content of procainides. Although in less proportion, these antioxidants are also present in red fruit, onions, red wine and green tea. One ounce (28,34 gr) of dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than one glass of red wine.

You should know that milk prevents the absorption of the polyphenols, so it’s best to eat chocolate with at least 85% of cacao, in addition, its content of sugar is also lower.

As cacao is very rich in fat, it has to be enjoyed with caution, however, with about 20 gr on a daily basis you don’t have to fear weight gain. The best option is defatted pure cacao, as it has more antioxidants than chocolate. You can use it to make delicious brownies, or, even better, fruit skewers bathed in cacao cream!

Chocolate stimulates the release of endorphin and serotonin into our brain. The first neurotransmitter reduces pain and decreases stress, and the second is known as an anti-depressant. Another interesting compound found in chocolate is the lipid anandamide. Anandamide is unique due to its resemblance to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a chemical found in marijuana. Both activate the same receptor which causes the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which leads to feelings of well being. Anandamide, found naturally in the brain, breaks down very rapidly. Besides adding to the levels of anandamide, chocolate also contains two other chemicals which work to slow the breakdown of the anandamide, thus extending the feelings of well-being.

Delicious and healthy!


  1. Fernández Martínez, Odile; 2013. Mis recetas anticáncer – Alimentación y vida anticancer. ISBAN 978-84-7953-437-0
  2. Keen CL, Chocolate: food as medicine/medicine as food. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Oct;20(5 Suppl):436S-439S; discussion 440S-442S.
  3. Ramljak D et al, Pentameric procyanidin from Theobroma cacao selectively inhibits growth of human breast cancer cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2005 Apr;4(4):537-46.
  4. Hammerstone JF et al; Procyanidin content and variation in some commonly consumed foods. J Nutr. 2000 Aug;130(8S Suppl):2086S-92S.
  5. Natsume M et al; Analyses of polyphenols in cacao liquor, cocoa, and chocolate by normal-phase and reversed-phase HPLC. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2000 Dec;64(12):2581-7.


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