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Description: Cacao (Theobroma cacao) is a small (48 m tall (15-26 ft)) evergreen tree in the family Sterculiaceae (alternatively Malvaceae), native to the deep tropical region of the Americas.

The scientific name Theobroma means "food of the gods". The word cacao itself derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word cacahuatl, learned at the time of the conquest when it was first encountered by the Spanish. Similar words for the plant and its by-products are attested in a number of other indigenous Mesoamerican languages

Cacao & chocolate:
Cacao pronounced Ka(cow)- yes, identical to our dearly beloved friends who produce for us in plentiful supply our daily servings of milk! Cacao is the nut from which all chocolate is made; so however you eat your chocolate in whatever form from whatever source whether it be a mars bar a snickers or something of higher quality like sacred heart or green&blacks it all comes from the cacao bean.

Unfortunately by the time you get your tasty bar of chocolate it has been processed so much that it barely resembles the quality, taste or has the same constituents of the original food. Chocolate in it's original state is an excellent source of magnesium and chromium which according to Nutrition Expert David Wolfe are the two main major mineral deficiencies right now in America...

And interestingly enough with the high rate of heart related deaths throughout the world and with so many people eating chocolate bars it kind of makes one wonder what happened to the goodies inherent in the original food. Our heart and brain thrive on magnesium which make chocolate great food for the soul. It is the most chemically complex food known with over 300 chemicals and contains significant sources of PEA (Phenylethylamine) and anandamide. The former also known as the love chemical and the latter taken from the sanskrit ananda, meaning bliss, and therefore known as the bliss chemical!

Health benefits & uses:
The cacao fruit can yield anything from twenty to fifty beans and is the highest source of antioxidants known to man according to ORAC (Oxygen Radical Advanced Capacity) ratings in the US. (If interested please refer to wikipedia for a definitions of ORAC and antioxidants)

In fact, the strong desire for chocolate during the female menstrual cycle may be related to cravings for magnesium, a mineral with calming qualities. Cacao is a good source of the beauty mineral sulphur, responsible for healthy skin, nails and hair.

Early colonial records indicate how cacao was used as a medicine and acted as a carrier in the administration of other remedies in the 1500's. The medicinal value of cacao was in its ability to treat weak patients with a variety of dis-ease. It was particularly known to improve digestion and stimulate kidney and bowel function. Additional diseases that responded to treatment using cacao was anaemia, fatigue, fever, low sex drive, respiratory troubles, poor appetite and low breat milk production.

In addition to the cacao bean, the oil/butter was used in the treatment of skin problems including eczema, psoriasis and burns. Today, cacao oil is considered a beauty aid in its use as a skin moisturizer, lubricating agent and when combined with the cacao bean, is used to make the chocolate confectionery we're familiar with. All chocolate is derived from the cacao bean/seeds. Nicknamed 'black gold' by the Spanish, it's no mystery that chocolate continues to captivate our taste buds with its rich bittersweet dance on our palette.

Additional Benefits:
Cacao is used principally for its diuretic effect due to stimulation of the renal epithelium; it is especially useful when there is an accumulation of fluid in the body resulting from cardiac failure, when it is often given with digitalis to relieve dilatation. It is also employed in high blood pressure as it dilates the blood-vessels. It is best administered in powders or cachets.

With over 300 identifiable chemical compounds, cacao is one of the most complex and pleasurably satisfying foods on the planet. Cacao contains anandamide (a euphoric substance), arginine (a natural aphrodisiac), neurotransmitters that stimulate and balance brain activity, tryptophan (an anti-depressant), antioxidants and other beneficial compounds known to have rejuvenating and anti-ageing elements. Cacao is high in the mineral magnesium, essential for helping the heart to pump blood efficiently, building strong bones, and lowering blood pressure.

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