Cacao (Ka.kaw) beans is a super food grown on the Therobroma cacao tree, and found mainly in south American, Caribbean and other countries where the climate is hot and humid. Growing up, we consumed copious amounts of cacao because there was an endless supply. This “food of the Gods” as it was called by the Greeks is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet, and consumed the right way, it’s benefits can be enormous.
How We Processed The Cacao My Grandfather Brought Home (pics)
1. The cacao hanging off the Theobroma cacao tree.
2. This is how my grandfather would bring the cacao home on his donkey; lots of full beautiful colored pods. Sometimes my siblings and I would pick them from the trees (they are very close to the ground) on our walk home from school and suck the white flesh off the seeds.
3. A dissected pod with the exposed cacao seeds.
4. An old Trinidadian picture of women dancing the cacao, which is the traditional way we separated and dried the seeds in trinidad. The seeds were extracted from the pods onto a shed and my family members would literally stomp around the slippery seeds to separate them (the process is known as “dance the cocao”. Once separated, they were left out in the shed for the sun to dry for about 2 to 3 weeks.
5. Sun dried cacao seeds
6. Vintage grinder. One exactly like my grandmother used to grind the beans.
7. End result. The oval cacao balls that were molded from the grounded beans.
Nutrients Found in Cacao Beans
- Vitamins: B1, B3, B5, B9, E
- Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Sulfur. Manganese,
- Fats: Steric Acid, Palmic acid, Cleic acid
- Polyphenols: Flavanoids
Health Benefits of Cacao Beans
- Decrease in cellular degeneration
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved circulation
- Increased energy
- Weight loss
- Decreased risk of diabetes and cancer
How to Enjoy Cacao
Cacao beans can be purchased at your local health food store. Be sure the label reads raw, not roasted and are not treated with alkalis. Roasted beans lose much of their nutritional content during the heating process.
- You can drink it as a tea. Avoid adding dairy products as they inhibit the absorption of antioxidants.
- Mix them with your fruit smoothies. This is my favorite way of ingesting cacao.
- Sprinkle bits over pancakes or waffles.
- Incorporate into your baked goods, ie. cookies, cakes, pancakes or waffles.
Dixie Lincoln- Nichols is a biological science educator, health and wellbeing consultant and Qigong instructor. Her work has been featured in media outlets like, Oprah Mag, SELF, Yahoo and more. She is the founder of Inside Outer Beauty Market, a multi-cultutal retailer curating and creating products to support the body inside and out. Visit the site at www.iobeautymarket.com