I know, right?
Unfortunately, we’ve all been sucked in (me included, big time,) by the marketers who conveniently leave out the bad bits, when singing the praises of raw cacao.
So while it may have some benefits, for some people the bad outweighs the good and problems arise. Let’s just say, it’s no bone broth!
Let me skip ahead a bit first, just so you don’t think…
“oh no, not another food stuff she is cutting out altogether!”
No I wouldn’t be that mean to myself. But it certainly will change the way I use it and how often – now that I know it may not be so super after all.
So what’s wrong with raw cacao exactly…
High in Phytic acid
That’s the stuff that binds to minerals and carries them right out of your body. So one of the benefits of raw cacao was supposed to be a plethora of minerals. Well they’re null and void if they can’t be absorbed by your body. (Nuts, seeds and grains have this too.)
I couldn’t get a consensus on whether raw cacao actually has caffeine in it as well or not, but one source that looked reliable said it has a little caffeine and a quite a bit of Theobromide. This is another stimulant that negatively affects the central nervous system.
“The cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and endocrine systems can also be over-stimulated. This can cause or worsen anxiety, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, depression, nervousness, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders, nausea, nervous disorders, osteoporosis, oedema, heart and circulation disorders and many more ailments.”1
A total uh oh!
High in Oxalic Acid
Blocks mineral absorption again and causes kidney stones
Raw Cacao is addictive and a mind altering drug.
Stimulates the production of serotonin, endorphins and dopamine, which are feel good neurotransmitters. And while a little is great, too much creates a dependency as well as insomnia, depression, anxiety, obesity, hyper activity and severe mood swings.
- Causes inflammation
- Causes digestive issues by decreasing important digestive enzymes
- High levels of purine, which causes gout
- High in mould and mycotoxins – leading to neurological issues and is carcinogenic
- Some brands have high levels of heavy metals
- Is generally an acidic food, so not good for those trying to stay alkaline
- The claim of “raw” cacao may not be true, as all cacao goes through fermentation and roasting to get the taste, otherwise it would be more purple like the bean/seed and taste completely different.
So while there is more to it, I think you get the picture.
Raw cacao may indeed have some antioxidants in it with some benefits, but the negatives seem to far outweigh the positives considering the wide range of potential harm to your body, nervous system and heart.
So the trigger for me was that I would have a cup of hot chocolate every morning. As I don’t drink coffee or tea any more because of the sensitivity to caffeine, the raw cacao powder didn’t seem to affect me like the others and I would have about a tablespoon full in a big cup with coconut cream. (2020 Update – I do drink coffee again now, see this post.)
I thought I was doing a good thing for my body with all the minerals in it. But it started to make me constipated and every time I was away on trips where I didn’t have this every day, everything seemed to go far more smoothly, which started me thinking again. So I had more of a look into it and got the shock of my life!
Not the superfood it’s made out to be and in fact in larger doses quite harmful! Eeek!
So with this new found awareness, as I said at the start, I am not throwing it out all together but I am relegating it into the ‘sometimes treats’ pile. Definitely no more daily hot chocolates or I have seen others add it to their smoothies. There is a big difference between using one tablespoon of it in a whole batch of homemade chocolate that you might eat over a week, rather than having that quantity daily in your cuppa or smoothie.
So this is a lesson in – don’t believe the hype. I guess it was one we all happily believed because we wanted it to be true! Ahhh…the pull of addiction is strong.
Stay aware on your health journey and decide for yourself, but always remember – your body will tell you first.
NB: For a complete guide on how to eat for a fast metabolism and healthy hormones check out my book the Zen Beach Diet.