Articles Chocolate (Cacao)

Cacao Health Benefits

Chocolate & Autoimmune Disease

Do you ever crave chocolate, eat it, and then still feel unsatisfied? If you’re eating processed chocolate this may explain why you’re not satisfying that craving. Processed chocolate destroys the majority of the antioxidants and minerals in it, thus inhibiting it’s ability to take care of that craving.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I LOVE chocolate! For years I’ve restrained myself from eating it, because processed chocolate actually flared up my autoimmune issues. I’d eat processed chocolate and wake up the next day with acne on my face and psoriasis on my scalp. It wasn’t until last year that I realized it was not the chocolate that was flaring my autoimmune symptoms, but rather the ingredients that were in it. Now I enjoy chocolate most days of the week, but in it’s real form.


What is Cacao?

Due to it’s high density of essential nutrients, Cacao is considered to be a superfood! Cacao is a beanlike seed used to make chocolate. The cacao tree is native to tropical regions in Central and South America, and the word “Cacao” originates from the Olmec word “ka-ka-w.” It’s been said that the Aztec ruler named Moctezuma II enjoyed drinking a frothy, bitter beverage made from cacao seeds.


Cacao vs Cocoa:

Cacao beans are harvested from the cacao pods. Once the beans are fermented and dried, they are then cleaned and roasted. Cacao is the raw/unprocessed version of Cocao.


Cacao Butter:

This is the fattiest part of the fruit and makes up the outer lining of the inside of a single cacao bean. It’s white in color and has a rich, creamy, buttery texture. “Use melted cacao butter in the place of other kinds of oil, margarine, or dairy butter in recipes like cookies, brownies, and cakes for a subtle chocolate innuendo (for best results, use a partial substitute only, keeping in mind that cacao butter will continue to firm up the recipe a little after cooking).” Click here for more info on  how to use cacao butter!


Health Benefits of Cacao:

  • There’s only 1 gram of sugar in ½ cup of raw cacao, which makes it great for a low glycemic index diet.
  • It’s rich in minerals like magnesium, sulfur, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium.
  • It’s high in Oleic acid, which lowers bad cholesterol & raises good cholesterol.
  • It’s high in Fiber, which is great for digestion & leaves you feeling full.
  • It’s loaded in polyphenols, which prevents heart disease, diabetes, and premature aging.
  • It contains phenethylamine (PEA), which stimulates the release of endorphins and makes you feel euphoric.


Child labor and Slavery:

Believe it or not, child slavery for the production of chocolate is a real issue. Over 2.3 million children work in the cacao fields of Ghana and Cote d’lvoire. Western African countries supply more than 70% of the world’s cacao. The candy industry is a 70-billion-dollar industry and companies like Nestle, Hershey, Mars, Godiva, Cargill, ADM, and Barry Callebaut are involved. When buying any chocolate products, please look for the Fair Trade Certified Logo or the Rainforest Alliance Certification.


Where to buy Cacao:

  • Most stores sell it now. I’ve bought from Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and The Fresh Market.
  • I prefer buying online from because it’s usually cheaper.
  • I buy the cacao powder for baking recipes and for using in smoothies.
  • I buy the cacao nibs and mix them with some dried fruit like cranberries or blueberries. I add in a little honey or maple syrup to it, which makes for a great treat.


My Favorite Brands


Navitas Organics

  • It is Fairly Traded & Organic.
  • You can find it at Whole Foods or


Equal Exchange

  • It is Fairly Traded and Organic.
  • You can find it at Whole Foods or



  • It is Organic, NON-GMO, Vegan, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Nut Free, Gluten Free, Egg Free, and Peanut Free.
  • You can find it at Whole Foods or





  • It is Organic, NON GMO, and sourced from Peru.
  • You can find it at Whole Foods, or online at or



  • It is Organic, NON-GMO, Vegan, Gluten Free, and Fair Trade Certified.
  • You can find it at Whole Foods, Kroger, and



  • It is Organic, NON-GMO, Vegan, Dairy Free, Kosher, and Fair Trade Certified.
  • You can find it at Whole Foods, Target, and


Listen to Your Body

  • You can read a million different studies and hear completely different opinions about what’s good for you and what’s not.
  • Listen to your body. We all have different bodies and there is not a “one size fits all” diet.
  • Create a food journal and play around with different foods. It can take up to 72 hours for a full reaction to happen, so don’t introduce more than one new food in at a time.
  • For me, I find that if I make my own cacao recipe from home, I do not have any adverse symptoms. But buying pre-made chocolates are hit or miss.
  • Many people with autoimmune issues are not able to tolerate chocolate, but might be able to tolerate cacao.


JUST EAT REAL FOOD – Stop focusing on calories & focus on what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. Your body is always giving you signals, but many times we ignore them. Pay attention if you develop nausea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, joint pain, rashes, sinus problems, or cold sores. If you develop any of these things after eating, it’s a good indicator that your body is giving you a clue to stop consuming something in your food. Many times these symptoms come from consuming chemicals, artificial coloring, and preservatives. Other times these symptoms can occur from a food allergy or sensitivity. Pay attention. Creating a food diary is a really great way to help you figure out what your triggers are. Food elimination diets are a great way to figure out what your triggers are.



Information in this posting is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Talk to your medical provider before starting any new supplements or medications.

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1 Comment

  • Sleep Better ~ Lindsay's Healthy Living
    March 11, 2019 at 1:09 am

    […] which can also affect the quality of sleep. Try eating foods that are high in magnesium like cacao nibs, almonds, cashews, or avocados. You can also buy or make magnesium oil and spray it on your body […]

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