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Raw Chocolate!

"The beverage of the gods was Ambrosia; that of man is chocolate. Both increase the length of life in a prodigious manner." - Louis Lewin, M.D., Phantastica

"Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine." - Geronimo Piperni


Pronounced [ka-kow]. Rhymes with "cow." CHOCOLATE and CACAO BEANS A total of 1% of the American diet consists of chocolate. In fact, chocolate is one of America's most well-loved foods. Yet, uniquely, out of millions of Americans very, very few have ever had the raw food that all chocolate comes from - cacao beans! All chocolate comes from cacao beans - the seeds of the cacao fruit - which grows on a jungle tree. Botanically, cacao is truly a nut. They may be referred to as cacao beans, cacao seeds, cacao nuts, chocolate seeds, chocolate beans, or cacao nibs - all essentially mean the same thing. For simplicity, we usually use the term "cacao beans." Cacao beans taste like dark chocolate, because they are dark chocolate! In 1753 Carl von Linnaeus, the 18th-century Swedish scientist who developed the plant and animal Latin categorization system, thought that chocolate was so important that he named the genus and species of the chocolate tree himself. He named this tree Theobroma cacao which literally means: cacao, the food of the gods. Just what the indigenous native Central Americans called it.

Edible Money

"But it is very needfull to heare what happie money they use, for they have money, which I call happy, because for the greedie desire and gaping to attaine the same, the bowelles of the earth are not rent a sunder, nor through the ravening greediness of covetous men, nor terrour of warres assayling, it returneth to the dennes and caves of the mother earth, as golden, or silver money doth. For this groweth upon trees." - Peter Martyr (Pietro Martire D'Anghiera, Milanese chronicler who coined the phrase "The New World") from De Orbe Novo (1530) In ancient Central American cultures, raw cacao beans were actually used as money. Imagine an edible money! When the Spanish came, they called cacao black gold (oro negro) or seeds of gold (pepe de oro). Montezuma (Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin), the emperor of the great city of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico city) and of the Aztec empire, had his treasure vaults filled with cacao beans, not gold! The chronicler Francisco Cervantes de Salazar mentions that the Emperor's cacao warehouse held more than 40,000 loads, which would mean 960,000,000 beans! The chronicler Motolinia tells us that in his day (shortly after Cortes' conquest of Tenochtitlan), the daily wage of a porter in central Mexico was 100 beans, which puts into perspective the following partial list of commodity prices in Tlaxcala, from a Nahuatl document circa 1545: One good turkey hen is worth 100 full cacao beans, or 120 shrunken beans. A turkey is worth 200 cacao beans. A hare [jackrabbit] or forest rabbit is worth 100 cacao beans each. A small rabbit is worth 30 cacao beans. One turkey egg is worth 3 cacao beans. An avocado newly picked is worth 3 cacao beans; when an avocado is fully ripe it will be equivalent to one cacao bean. One large tomato will be equivalent to a cacao bean. A large sapote fruit, or two small ones, is equivalent to a cacao bean. A large axolotl [larval salamander, an Aztec delicacy] is worth 4 cacao beans, a small one is worth 2 or 3 cacao beans. A tamale is exchanged for a cacao bean. A fish wrapped in maize husks is worth 3 cacao beans.

Cacao As A Superfood

Cacao Beans contain over 300 chemically identifiable compounds making it one of the most complex food substances on Earth! Substances in chocolate that have been discussed in the scientific literature as pharmacologically significant, include: anandamide (bliss chemical), arginine (Sunfood Nutrition's Viagra), dopamine (neurotransmitter), epicatechins (antioxidants), histamine, magnesium, serotonin (anti-stress neurotransmitter), tryptophan (anti-depressant amino acid), phenylethylamine (PEA), polyphenols (antioxidants), tyramine, and salsolinol.


Dr. Bernard Jensen's research on the heart indicates that this organ requires two minerals more than any other, magnesium and potassium. Magnesium is concentrated eighteen times greater in the heart muscle than in the bloodstream. Magnesium is the primarily mineral missing when heart problems occur. Magnesium increases the overall vigor of the heart muscle. This mineral also decreases blood coagulation thus lowering blood pressure and helping the heart pump more effectively. Cacao, of course, is a fantastic food source of heart-supporting magnesium.


According to research cited in The New York Times, fresh cacao beans are super-rich in antioxidant flavonols. Cacao beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) per 100 grams of flavonol antioxidants. This is a whopping 10% antioxidant concentration level! This makes cacao one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any food. Compare the cacao bean to processed cocoa powder (defatted, roasted cacao treated with potassium carbonate) and chocolates which range in flavonol content from the more common concentration of 500 milligrams per 100 grams in normal chocolate bars to 5,000 milligrams in Mars Corporation's special Cocoapro cocoa powder. Research has demonstrated that the antioxidants in cacao are highly stable and easily available to human metabolism. Cornell University food scientists found that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times what is found in green tea. Their findings were published in an article entitled "Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine," found in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication. Scientists have known that cocoa contains significant antioxidants, but no one knew just how rich they were compared with those in red wine and green tea. The Cornell researchers, led by Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., say the reason that cocoa leads the other drinks is its high content of antioxidant compounds called phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids. They discovered 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) in a single serving of cocoa. Examining a glass of red wine, the researchers found 340 milligrams of GAE and 163 milligrams of ECE. In a cup of green tea, they found 165 milligrams of GAE and 47 milligrams of ECE. Antioxidant ORAC levels per 100 grams: dark chocolate - 13,120 milk chocolate - 6,740 prunes - 5,770 raisins - 2,830 blueberries - 2,400 blackberries - 2036 kale - 1,770 strawberries - 1540 spinach - 1260 raspberries - 1220 brussel sprouts - 980 plums - 949 alfalfa sprouts - 930 broccoli - 890 The ORAC test examines the antioxidant levels of various foods. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food. Source: US Department of Agriculture / Journal of the American Chemical Society Dairy Products and Antioxidants Cacao and dark chocolate boost antioxidants; however, the addition of dairy products/milk cancels out the effects of antioxidants. Studies indicate that dairy products specifically block the absorption of all the great antioxidants in chocolate!


A recent study showed that only one out of 500 people who thought they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive. The idea that chocolate is a common allergen has been around for a long time, but recent evidence suggests allergy to chocolate is quite rare. It is more often the case that the person is in fact allergic to milk and dairy products. Acne Research by the U.S. Naval Academy concluded that there is no evidence that chocolate causes or exacerbates acne. It is likely that the sugar added to chocolate exacerbates acne. What we are finding is that chocolate itself is a health food, especially in its raw form as cacao beans. It is the substances added to chocolate that cause the problems: dairy products/milk and sugar!

Methylxanthines: Theobromine and Caffeine

Cacao can increases one's energy substantially. Cacao does contain the stimulating methylxanthines: theobromine and a small amount of caffeine. Theobromine Theobromine makes up between 1-2% of the cacao bean. Theobromine stimulates the central nervous system, relaxes smooth muscles, and dilates blood vessels. Theobromine has about 1/4 of the stimulating power of its sister molecule caffeine. Theobromine is also a mild diuretic (increases urination) and has been used as a medical drug in cases where a heart attack had resulted in an accumulation of body fluid. Theobromine is a cardiac stimulant. This is a reason why it has been used to treat high blood pressure. One of the reasons why dogs should not eat cacao or chocolate is because this food can cause cardiac arrest. Dogs simply lack the enzymes necessary to metabolize quantities of theobromine in excess of 100-150 mg per kilogram of the dog's body weight. Caffeine Estimates of how much caffeine is present in cacao differ, depending on the source. However, it generally agreed that chocolate is a poor source of caffeine. Consider the following estimates we came across in our research: A 1.4 ounce-piece of chocolate (40 grams) contains the same amount of caffeine as one cup of decaffeinated coffee. A cup of hot chocolate usually contains about 4 or 5 milligrams of caffeine, which is about 1/20 that of a cup of regular coffee. According to the Chocolate Information Center, a 50-gram piece of dark chocolate - about the size of your average chocolate bar - will yield between 10 and 60 milligrams of caffeine, while an average 5-ounce cup of coffee can yield up to 175 milligrams. 800 grams of milk chocolate (that's a lot of chocolate!) contains the equivalent amount of caffeine present in a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee may contain 50 to 175 milligrams of caffeine, a cup of tea contains 25 to 100 milligrams, and a cup of cocoa beverage contains 25 milligrams to none. Interesting research on caffeine in the field of homeopathy (a branch of medical science) indicates caffeine's stimulating effect when cooked, but not when eaten raw. One experiment conducted with a decoction of roasted ground cacao beans in boiling water produced an excitement of the nervous system similar to that caused by black coffee and an excited state of circulation, demonstrated by an accelerated pulse. Notably, when the same decoction was made with raw, unroasted cacao beans neither effect was noticeable.

Phenylethylamine (PEA)

PEA is a chemical in cacao that increases the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in parts of the brain that control our ability to pay attention and stay alert. Elevated PEA levels occur when we are captivated by a good book, movie, or project; this happens specifically during those moments when we are so focused that we lose all track of time, food, and the outside world. PEA is noticeably abundant in the brains of happy people. Chocolate has been found to contain up to 2.2% phenylethylamine (PEA).

Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical)

A neurotransmitter called anandamide (n-arachidonoylethanolamine), has been isolated in cacao in quantities significant enough to affect the brain. Anandamide is a cannabinoid naturally found in the human brain. Anandamide is a lipid (fat) known as "the bliss chemical" because it is released while we are feeling great. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favorable results when consumed by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters such as anandamide, dopamine, etc. to circulate in the brain. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MAO inhibitors facilitate youthening and rejuvenation. MAO inhibitors make one younger as they allow more neurotransmitters to remain in the bloodstream. A primary phenomenon that separates children from adults is the level of neurotransmitters in the blood and bodies of children. Generally, as one remains on the planet longer and longer, the level of neurotransmitters decreases. This creates physical rigidity, less creativity, less joy, and more aging! Cacao, being an MAO inhibitor, keeps plenty of neurotransmitters in circulation and thus stops this phenomenon from ever occurring.


As with all languages, the peoples of pre-Columbian Central America often spoke in metaphors composed of words or phrases which, when uttered in sequence, had a hidden meaning. One of these metaphors was yollotl, eztli, "heart, blood," which referred to cacao. Chocolate truly is food for the heart - it is the heart's "blood," due to its magnesium, antioxidants, love chemicals and esoteric properties. Chocolate, as we know it, is known for its sensual love vibration. Chocolate is the symbol of sensuality, pleasure, and sexuality. Some writers have claimed that 50% of women prefer chocolate to sex! (imagine if they were given real chocolate: cacao beans!) We have often heard that "chocolate opens the heart" - which is actually true. Chocolate is the gift to all lovers. Chocolates are always given as love offerings. A box of chocolates is one of the most common gifts for Valentine's Day. Cacao, because it is unadulterated, has an even stronger love energy. In ancient Aztec wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom would exchange 5 cacao beans with each other.

Sunfood Nutrition's Prozac (Anti-Depressant Properties of Cacao)

As we have noted, cacao is one of Sunfood Nutrition's richest sources of magnesium, which is a heart as well as brain mineral. Cacao is also a great source of serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine, three well-studied neurotransmitters, which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of well being. Cacao contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) that improve our mood because they allow serotonin and dopamine to remain in the bloodstream longer without being broken down. Cacao contains anandamide which delivers blissful feelings. Cacao also contains B vitamins, which are associated with brain health. All this makes cacao a natural prozac! Research by British psychologist, Dr. David Benton at the University of Wales in Swansea, found chocolate to be an excellent mood elevator. When he played sad music to a group of students, their moods sank. He then offered them the choice of milk chocolate or carob (a natural chocolate substitute that is similar in taste). Without their knowing which product they were eating, the participants found that the chocolate raised their moods, while the carob did nothing. Moreover, as their moods fell, their cravings for chocolate increased.

Raw Chocolate

The truth about the health-benefits of chocolate is finally reaching our ears. However, the whole truth should be told. Chocolate is healthy if it is dark with no added dairy products/milk or refined sugar. Even better are raw cacao beans, the "food of the gods" which possess all the magical properties of chocolate without any adulteration or processing! Add real chocolate chips (crushed cacao beans) to your favorite dessert and watch all heaven break loose! Experiment with, eat, and enjoy real organic cacao beans and you will know why the Mayans and Aztecs used cacao as money!

Chocolate Nut-Milk Recipe
1 liter (4 cups) of coconut water
20 cacao beans (preferably peeled)
10 raw cashews (everyone loves cashews!)
3-5 tablespoons of carob powder and/or maca powder (maca is a powdered root from Peru that is an amazing high-protein superfood aphrodisiac, strengthener, and fertility enhancer)
3-5 tablespoons of honey and/or agave cactus nectar
2 tablespoons of hempseed oil
2 tablespoons of coconut oil/butter
2-3 pinches of sea salt (preferably celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink rock salt)
2-3 sprinkles of cinnamon

Blend all ingredients, drink, and arrive back on Earth in about 2 hours!

David Wolfe ( is the author of The Sunfood Diet Success System, Eating For Beauty, co-author of a currently-untitled book on raw cacao and Professor of Live-Food Nutrition at Gabriel Cousens Tree of Life Masters Program in Patagonia Arizona. He is considered by peers to be the leading authority on raw-food nutrition. David is supported in his nutritional mission by the online healthfood store


Books Coe, Sophie D. and Coe, Michael D. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Cousens, Gabriel, M.D. with Mark Mayell. Depression-Free for Life. New York: Harper Collins, 2001. Drapeau, MSc., Christian, Primordial Food (Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae), One World Press, Asheville, North Carolina, 2003 Jensen, Dr. Bernard. Dr. Jensen's Guide To Body Chemistry & Nutrition. Los Angeles, CA: Keats Publishing, 2000. Lopez, Ruth. Chocolate: The Sunfood Nutrition of Indulgence. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002. Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2001. Articles olt RR, Lazarus SA, Sullards MC, et al. Procyanidin Dimer B2 [epicatechin-(4beta-8)-epicatechin] In Human Plasma After The Consumption of Flavanol-Rich Cocoa. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002; 76:1106-1110. Kris-Etherton, PM, Keen, CL. "Evidence That The Antioxidant Flavonoids in Tea and Cocoa are Beneficial for Cardiovascular Health." Curr Opin Lipidol. 2002; 13:41-49. Land, Ruth, "Loving Luxury Chocolate," Money Magazine, February 9, 2004 Morgenthaler, J. and Joy, D. Better Sex Through Chemistry. Petaluma, California: Smart Publications, 1995. Olson, Elizabeth, "Beyond Delicious: Could Chocolate Also Be Good For You?," New York Times, February 17, 2004. Osakabe, N, Baba S, Yasuda A, et al. "Daily Cocoa Intake Reduces The Susceptibility of Low-Density Lipoprotein To Oxidation As Demonstrated In Healthy Human Volunteers," Free Rad Res. 2001; 34:93-99. Richelle, M, Tavazzi I, Offord E, "Comparison of the Antioxidant Activity of Commonly Consumed Polyphenolic Beverages (Coffee, Cocoa, Tea) Prepared Per Cup Serving," J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49:3438-3442. Rios LY, Bennett RN, Lazarus SA, et al. "Cocoa Procyanidins Are Stable During Gastric Transit In Humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002; 76:1106-1110. Simao, Paul, Study Links Marijuana Buzz, "Runner's High", Reuters, Atlanta, Jan. 9 Websites "The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate," George Nemecz, PhD (Vol. No. 29:02, posted 2/15/4) (Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases)

by David Wolfe, author of Naked Chocolate