Cacao has been used in ceremonies from the time of the Aztecs and Mayans, who saw this tantalising drink as the elixir of the gods. It was considered so valuable, they are even said to have used chocolate as a form of money.

Over the centuries, the medicinal use of cacao has not diminished, and it has been prescribed for all manner of ailments, including to help emaciated people, to stimulate the nervous system and give more energy, to improve digestion and even to enhance sex drive.

Thankfully, science today has proved that some of these anecdotal benefits have a basis in fact.

We bring you a lowdown of 5 incredible health benefits of cacao (as if you needed an excuse to eat more chocolate). Just remember, the darker and the more pure the better.

1. It’s good for your heart

Your poor old ticker gets a battering nowadays, what with high levels of stress and an array of daily stimulants like coffee.

Good old cacao is here to save the day. This flavanol-rich compound acts as a protective anti-oxidant shield. Studies show that the flavanols in cacao are even more effective than other flavanol-rich food, such as green tea, blueberries and garlic. Eating lots of the brown stuff is even suggested to reduce the risk of heart disease.

2. It will make you look younger

The anti-oxidant effect also has the benefit of neutralising pesky free radicals in your nervous system. These will damage your cells and bring about premature aging. Consuming some delicious raw cacao will then help stop this from happening.

Flavanoids can also increase blood flow to your skin, reducing the risks of wrinkles and leaving you with a natural healthy glow.

3. It’s nutritious

Cocoa is high in magnesium, a mineral that's important for many processes in your body, such as for calcium absorption to ensure you have healthy bones.

It is also rich in calcium, iron, copper, zinc and potassium, not to mention loaded with fibre. Who needs a multi-vitamin when you’ve got cacao?

Of course, it’s important to try and source organic where possible, so you get maximum nutrition with minimal nasty pesticide residues.

4. It will boost your happiness

Oxytocin alert! Cacao contains anandamide, sometimes referred to as the bliss molecule, which will boost your mood and leave you feeling more relaxed. Not only will consuming cacao improve your well-being, but it will also combat mood swings by boosting serotonin levels in the brain.

There’s a reason you feel that warm, happy glow after nibbling on a square of chocolate and this is it. We don’t need to be told more than once…pass the raw chocolate bar.

5. It will give you more energy

Another un-pronounceable compound in cacao, methylxanthine, is a stimulant. You’ll find you have much more energy after a mug of real cacao, especially when combined with a pinch of chili. There is also some caffeine in there, so we wouldn’t recommend drinking a big mug before bed, but it will leave you bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready and raring to face the day.

This enhanced energy might be one of the reasons that chocolate has been prescribed in centuries past to enhance sex drive!

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” Forrest Gump

Right, chemistry lesson over.

We at Truffles Therapy love to use cacao in our ceremonies and only the highest-grade, sustainably sourced stuff will do. Our friends at Pure Kakaw provide us with the finest cacao from the mountains of Nicaragua.

Its medicinal properties complement the psilocybin, opening up the blood vessels, stimulating the heart and encouraging greater connection with each other.

Like our friends the ancient Mayans, our ritualistic use of cacao in ceremonies accords this super-substance the respect it deserves. We usually serve it in a traditional way with a hint of chili and perhaps some cinnamon or agave for sweetness.

If you have ever sipped a warm mug of fragrant cacao you will know that this is no standard hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.

No excuses needed to sample some high-quality cacao for yourself. Here is delicious recipe idea to tempt your taste buds. Enjoy!

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