Have you ever felt like you could use a little help improving your mood or mental state? As someone who has experienced anxiety and low mood myself, I can certainly relate. While there are a variety of approaches we can take to support our mental health, I've found that adding raw cacao to my diet has been particularly beneficial.
Not only is raw cacao delicious, but it's also packed with nutrients and compounds that can benefit our mental wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown that consuming raw cacao can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve cognitive function, and even boost the release of feel-good hormones like endorphins and anandamide.
One study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that consuming chocolate (which contains cacao) led to improved mood states in participants. Another study, published in the same journal, found that consuming dark chocolate (which has a higher percentage of cacao) led to increased levels of endorphins and anandamide, two neurotransmitters associated with feelings of pleasure and wellbeing.
But it's not just about the immediate mood-boosting effects. Raw cacao is also rich in flavanols, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to support cognitive function and protect against cognitive decline. In fact, a study published in Physiology & Behavior found that consuming cocoa flavanols resulted in an acute improvement in visual and cognitive functions.
Heres some of the benefits:
Raw cacao contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is known to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that consuming chocolate with high levels of cacao increased positive mood and decreased negative mood in participants.
Raw cacao also contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter that is known to induce feelings of relaxation and well-being. It can help reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that participants who consumed chocolate with high levels of cacao experienced reduced levels of stress hormones.
Raw cacao is rich in flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants that have been linked to improved cognitive function. A study published in the journal Appetite found that participants who consumed a high-flavanol cocoa drink had improved cognitive function compared to those who consumed a low-flavanol cocoa drink.
Raw cacao also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. It can help alleviate symptoms of depression and promote a sense of well-being. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that consumption of cocoa flavanols was associated with improved mood and symptoms of depression in participants.
Raw cacao contains compounds such as epicatechin and catechin, which have been shown to have neuroprotective effects. They can help protect the brain from damage and prevent cognitive decline. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that consumption of cacao flavanols improved cognitive function in participants with mild cognitive impairment.
While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of raw cacao for mental health, the evidence thus far is promising. As a self-proclaimed chocoholic, I love finding new ways to incorporate raw cacao into my diet. Whether it's adding cacao powder to my morning smoothie or enjoying a Sacred Cacao latte as an afternoon pick me up, I know that I'm not only satisfying my sweet tooth, but also doing something good for my mental wellbeing.
So the next time you're in need of a little mental pick-me-up, why not try one of our Sacred Taste cacao of wild-crafted ceremonial grade cacao? Your taste buds (and your brain) will thank you for it.
With love xx
Scholey, A., Owen, L., & Finnegan, Y. (2008). Mood state effects of chocolate. Journal of psychopharmacology, 22(1), 72-80.
Gálvez-Peralta, M., & Elizondo-Montemayor, L. (2020). Effects of Dark Chocolate on the Release of Cortisol, Endorphins and Anandamide in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of psychopharmacology, 34(8), 894-902.
Field, D. T., Williams, C. M., Butler, L. T., & Harris, D. (2011). Consumption of cocoa flavanols results in an acute improvement in visual and cognitive functions. Physiology & behavior, 103(3-4), 255-260.
Marx, W., Moseley, G., Berk, M., & Jacka, F. (2020). Nutritional psychiatry: the present state of the evidence. Proceedings of the Nutrition