It's that time of year where the stores start stocking up on roses and other flowers. Boxes of chocolate begin to line the shelves. St. Valentine's day is only a little over a week away.
While St. Valentine is remembered by the giving of gifts and notes to those we love, this month is also American Heart Health Month. Those roses and chocolate not only bring smiles to our faces as physical proofs of love, but they also have medicinal effects on the body as well.
I don't know about you, but I'm always happy to find out more good news about my favorite herb, chocolate. Are you ready to read all of the reasons that you SHOULD be eating more chocolate?
Before we start:
This herbal information is just that, information. This blog post and I do not intend to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or illness. This is for informational, education and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a physician before using herbs medicinally.
This post also contains affiliate links throughout. Translation: We get a little kick back for sharing certain products, at no additional cost to you, should you choose to purchase said items. And - thank you for supporting our farm and family! Read the full disclaimer here.
There are so many beautiful super foods that God made. We all know about the anti-oxidant rich elderberries, we know about the goodness that red wine has to offer us as well as the different properties of tea are beneficial. Now you can add dark chocolate to that list.
Chocolate is made from the cocoa beans that come from the tropical cocoa tree that loves to grow around the equator as well as other tropical places like Florida and Hawaii.
The cocoa beans are harvested from the pods (the fruit) of the cocoa tree, and then they are fermented for 3-10 days before they are dried. Their dried form is known as cocoa nibs, and when cocoa nibs are ground and processed, they are turned into cocoa powder. Cocoa butter also derives from this same fruit. It makes an excellent ingredient in many different skincare products, as well as chocolate recipes.
Cocoa (or cacao) is full of so many different vitamins and minerals. Including micro-nutrients that have anti-oxidant properties. As well as flavonoids, theobromine, caffeine, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, sodium, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Not only is cocoa full of vitamins and minerals that are super helpful, but cocoa is packed full of many medicinal properties. These medicinal properties have been proven in various medical studies.
As we mentioned above, cocoa is an antioxidant, as well as cardioprotective, neuroprotective, inflammatory modulator, and a stimulating nervine. Cocoa butter is moistening while cocoa powder can be drying.
Cocoa comes with many medicinal actions and indicated uses that cover so many systems of the body from the heart, nervous system, bowel, brain, and circulatory system.
Let's take a peek at some of the indicated uses and actions of cocoa. If you would rather download the 3 page report on Cocoa, grab those for free here!
Cocoa doesn't come without free precautions and contraindications, though. Just because cocoa is all-natural and considered a food doesn't mean that we shouldn't be cautious, especially when using medicinally.
Those sensitive to stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine should be cautious when consuming large or daily amounts of cocoa. Perhaps not consume it at all depending on sensitivity.
Studies have shown that consuming the whole bean form of chocolate provides the most benefits. Also, the more cocoa in the chocolate, the better and more valuable the benefits the cocoa will be. Aim to have at least 70% cocoa, with 100% cocoa content being the healthiest.
Those sensitive to caffeine may see increased nervousness, increased urination, sleeplessness, and increased heart rate.
If nursing use caution with the intake of chocolate as caffeine may affect the mood and digestion of breastfeeding infants.
Cocoa may interact with certain medications such as Clozaril, dipyridamole, ergotamine, phenylpropanolamine, and theophylline. Cocoa may also influence their effects on the body.
Now that we know the lovely benefits of cocoa (cacao) and all of the ways that it might help us, how do we put it to use?
Cocoa can be used in many ways including teas, both infusions and decoctions as well as culinary purposes. I'm pretty certain that you and I could come up with lots of ways to consume chocolate. My favorite way is in these Heavenly Organic Mint Patty's. They are free from sugar, high in raw cocoa and only contain 3 ingredients. There are of course many other ways to enjoy this lovely medicinal herb.
Using Cocoa Butter In Skin Care
To get all the benefits of cocoa, we don't only have to consume it, but we can use it on our skin.
No, I don't mean throwing cocoa powder in your bath or dusting yourself with it. I'm talking about using cocoa butter. Not only is cocoa butter yummy in our homemade maple chocolate, but it is also fabulous to use in lip balms and salves.
Cocoa butter is very nourishing to the skin and works fabulously as a moisturizer. Cocoa butter is full of fatty acids, which cause it to hydrate the skin and form a protective barrier that helps to lock in the moisture. It has a yummy scent that pairs fabulously with mint essential oils as well as more spicy oils like cinnamon or even citrus oils like orange and lemon.
Here on the farm, we love using cocoa butter in our Cotton Pick'n Peppermint lip balm as well as our Winter Balm. There are so many fun combinations that could be used, and your skin will thank you.
So, I'm curious! What is your favorite way to use cocoa? Did you know that it had so many wonderful medicinal properties? Leave us a comment below, we would love to hear from you.
If you loved this type of blog post, there is more where where this one came from. I would love to invite you to join our FREE 6-day Medicinal Tea Blending Workshop! Make sure you check it out here, and I'll catch you in the comments below.