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CACAO Chocolate as a Health Food – Bridgeford’s Best Bites: Nutrition Tips

cacao truffles (2)Chocolate is processed from the pod of the cacao plant, grown in the tropics. The Mayans were probably the first to cultivate the cacao plant. The early chocolate drink, considered a “drink of the Gods” was mixed with cinnamon and pepper, tasting bitter and strong, and most appreciated for its invigorating and stimulating effects than for its taste.

Nutrition: Rich in magnesium, phosphorus and potassium; high in polyphenols, especially flavonols (antioxidants).

Theobromine is the alkaloid responsible for its bitter taste and has similar though lesser effect to caffeine; it is toxic to dogs. Phenylethylamine functions as a neuro-modulator responsible for the stimulant (norepinephrine) and feel good (dopamine) factors.


Anti-Inflammatory: modulates inflammatory markers of atherosclerosis

Anti-Oxidant: due to flavonoids, especially epicatechin

Cardiovascular:  manage and prevent hypertension, reduction in cardiovascular events and strokes

Cholesterol:  lowering effects

Exercise: decreased soreness after exercise

Immune: modulation due to flavonoids

Kidneys: increased oxygenation to renal medulla; more study needed

Liver: reduced levels of liver enzymes in HIV and hepatitis-C patients and may help in alcoholic fatty liver prevention; more study needed

Malaria: hypothesized as a prophylactic to fight malaria

Mind/Mood: Improved mood and cognitive function due to neurovascular coupling, recommended for the elderly; inhibition of tryptophan breakdown in vitro. Flavinoids are important in learning and memory, lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s; decreased mental fatigue, may be related to improved endothelial function and blood flow

Neuro-Protective: due to anti-oxidant properties

Obesity: decrease in expression of genes involved in fatty acid synthesis, reducing digestion and absorption of fats and carbohydrates and increasing satiety

Adding Chocolate to your Diet: The above results apply to real cacao and not the commercial chocolate bars!

A Real Chocolate Recipe that is quicker than a trip to the store:


3 parts coconut oil
3 parts raw cacao powder
1 part liquid sweetener (I like maple syrup due to its nutrient content)

Using 1 part as a 1 tablespoon makes about 4 truffles.


Melt coconut oil in a double boiler (or a small pan in a larger pan of boiling water), mix in cacao and maple syrup.

Place the mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes, then roll into balls, like truffles; can also be set in a mould.


Variations for Christmas Flavour, mix in any or all of the following as desired:

1 part fresh orange juice
1 part desiccated coconut
1 part sesame seeds
1 part crushed nuts
1/4 part ground cinnamon

Sprinkle of black pepper and/or cayenne pepper
Roll in desiccated coconut and sprinkle with raw cacao.


We are happy to advise you on your health matters.

Lin Dec 2014

Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MSCC ICAK (UK) MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher

Aether Bios Clinic

Tel: 01273 309557
Mobile: 07710 227038

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