I have heard conflicting opinion on whether raw cacao is safe -
One quote reads: "No animal in nature will eat it unless tricked into it with milk or sugar. If you can convince an animal to eat it then it greatly shortens their life span if it doesn???t kill them immediately. The native people who ate it only ate the fruit of the theobroma (which contains all the benefits and none of the detriments) and only used the cacao seed as an addition to their psychedelic brew ahyuwasca and as a medicine in emergencies. Native people did not eat it as a food nor as a supplement, only for sacred use. Cacao is one of the most addictive substances known. Cacao is super toxic to the liver. It acts as a stimulant and agitates the kidneys and adrenal glands. It is extremely clogging due to the toxins carried in the oils contained within. Plus the fat chains are highly complex and require tons of work to break down." (from this source)
However, raw cacao is claimed to be absolutely packed with a cacophony of nutrients and labelled by so many as a superfood. Quoted from one seller: "The raw Cacao Bean is one of nature's most fantastic superfoods due to its mineral content and wide array of unique and varied properties. Since many of the special properties of cacao are destroyed or lost by cooking, refining, and processing, we feel that planet Earth???s favorite food is still unknown to most of us. Now we get to reconnect with the power of real chocolate: raw Cacao Beans."
Has anyone ever researched further into this topic?
asked byLouisa (7073)
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on March 18, 2010
at 08:18 PM
I certainly don't need to be tricked into consuming raw cacao, I've got some raw beans and they're pretty tasty (as you'd expect of 100% chocolate). They certainly don't contain any super 'raw' benefits, but neither is there any reason to think it would be uniquely toxic.
I'm now of the opinion, that more processed and certainly fermented cocoa is healthier, on account of reducing the phytic acid, as discussed here. How good/bad cocoa is, is a near impossible question to answer, given that the effects of anti-nutrients vs nutrients are nigh-impossible to quantify. If you absorbed all the nutrients of cocoa, then it would be a great food (and largely saturated fat), as it is, it might be a net negative. One thing that certainly counts against it is the caffeine, as with coffee I can well imagine that continued consumption of these on the parts of paleo figures is more a question of vice/optimistic thinking than of considered paleo opinion.
Oh and as to the difference between raw cocoa, plain dark cocoa powder and 85-90% chocolate, I find the intensity and how much it might aggravate my stomach substantially decreases as you go along that list.
on March 19, 2010
at 05:56 AM
Dr Tourgeman of Nephropal has four blog entries on the health benefits of Cacao. http://nephropal.blogspot.com/search/label/Cacao
I first learned of Cacao Nibs being available through Amazon from Dr. T. Navitas brand. I eat them mixed in Greek Yogurt along with cut up strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. They are a little bitter if you try to eat them straight. Cacao does have caffeine in it, so don't eat them in the evening if you want to sleep well.
Stephan has a piece on Cacao also http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/search?q=cacao
on March 18, 2010
at 07:38 PM
Like almost everything coming from raw veganism, this is garbage written in sciency language. The first sentence is blatantly incorrect "No animal in nature will eat it unless tricked into it with milk or sugar" as capuchin monkeys consume it in the willd.
on October 15, 2011
at 12:30 AM
Raw cacao isn't actually raw. All chocolate has to be fermented to have a chocolate taste. True raw unfermented cacao beans taste very bitter and very bad. The fermentation process of cacao reaches temperatures above raw. Roasting cacao increases certain antioxidants and is probably more beneficial than non-roasted cocoa.
on December 05, 2010
at 02:37 AM
This assessment rings true with me. I've been using raw cacao nibs in green smoothies for about three months once daily. Went to the doctor for a checkup and my bloodwork showed that my liver enzymes were too high. Didn't think much of it and the doctor recommended a liver cleanse and milk thistle, etc. Then began having discomfort in my liver and kidney areas. The only thing I had been doing differently were my daily green smoothies with the cacao. I laid off for a few days and felt better then started leaving out the cacao nibs. There's no denying that when I use the cacao my liver and kidneys ache and when I leave them out, I'm fine. No scientific evidence, other than the way I feel when I eat the nibs and when I don't--night and day difference. I was probably using 2-3 tablespoons in a 32oz smoothie each day which was probably too much in hindsight, though it tasted great.
Just hope no lasting damage has been done, though I feel it hasn't. Pretty scary to say the least...listen to your body.
on March 18, 2010
at 08:12 PM
I think this question has been asked already in the more general form of chocolate. This question comes with a really inflammatory (and bad) raw food source in the question. I would hate to see every nut job that can publish on the web be linked to from here. If there are no references, you aren't looking at valid information.
on March 18, 2010
at 06:27 PM
"Super toxic to the liver"? Interesting claim, but the article has no references other than some guy I never heard of saying it's really, like super-duper, bad for you.
On the other hand, Dr. Kurt eats 85% Lindt dark.
Not exactly a toss-up in my opinion.
on September 19, 2012
at 04:00 PM
"No animal in nature will eat it unless tricked into it with milk or sugar. If you can convince an animal to eat it then it greatly shortens their life span if it doesn???t kill them immediately." Whomever wrote this certainly has not spent any time in an organic cacao orchard where monkeys and squirrels and sloths love to hang out and beat the cultivators to the chocolate harvest.
on July 20, 2012
at 09:40 PM
I love cacao and I've noticed nothing painful or unsettling after about half a year of consumption. It helps me balance my superhuman sleep cycle and seems to regulate my energy, making me more awake all day and less likely to stay up until 1-2 in the morning, which is typical to me. It is certainly slightly psychoactive, tending to make colors appear more vivid and lifting my mood. I have had a similar skin outbreak though, so ill take some Time off and see if my skin improves, though excemia runs in my family
on September 13, 2010
at 03:14 AM
I like the taste of it but it makes my stomach a bit twitchy like an almost cramp. I get the feeling my body does not like it nearly as much as my tastebuds. Either that or I just need to get accustomed to it. However, until I know for sure, I keep intake to a minimum. I am waiting to see more info on this. Maybe it's just me, but cacao is a seed and so it probably does not want to be eaten. I have many times seen phytic acid listed as a beneficial ingredient that leaches unhealthy heavy metals and toxins out of the system. How someone chooses to interpret a piece of research can vary wildly depending on assumptions and on wishful thinking. One person can decide something is good and another can decide it is bad, all based on the same evidence or lack thereof. I'll be waiting to see if there is any research showing any actual controlled and tested improvement or health benefit before I let loose on the cacao binge! I think we all are hoping cacao will turn out to be healthy so we can enjoy the good taste without any guilt. But that very same wish my tinge our analytical skills to some extent as well.
on March 15, 2013
at 12:02 AM
I drink 100%, unsweetened, cacao powder daily with my largest meal. I actually rather like the intense bitterness (but then again, I can also bite into an onion like an apple and lick up saigon cinnamon without a flinch so I may not be "normal").
I've noticed no discomfort, energy imbalances, nor any other deleterious health effects. If there ARE any negative effects then they have all been asymptomatic and have not in any way stood between me and my fat loss/strength gains.
on March 14, 2013
at 09:40 PM
I have been on a raw chocolate making kick for the past six months or more. I love the raw chocolate but am noticing that I feel bloated and uncomfortable after I eat a piece of the raw chocolate. The ingredients are raw cacao butter and raw cacao powder, and raw cacao nibs and sometimes some coconut sugar or nectar. I am going to give myself a break from it for a bit after reading other reviews here. Something is making my stomach hurt and go into overdrive. I don't have to be a scientist to know that. Will see if store bought chocolate does the same. I wasn't eating large quantities of it but I was having two or three small pieces a day the size of a chocolate kiss. maybe that is too much. Or maybe I am having a reaction to cacao.
on December 04, 2012
at 09:46 PM
When I have cacao powder my nose will open and I feel good for about 1 hour
In response who got excema, the antioxidants in cocao will make you detox and excema is a way your body detoxes, this is probably a good thing I would not stop drinking cacao, but would not take more then 3 tablespoons a day
on October 10, 2012
at 02:17 PM
Not sure what is the answer but I totally agree that moderation is the way to live. I am a Natural Therapist and am constantly being bombarded with new and improved diets and fads on foods. The bottom line... we are all different and what works for one will not work for another. i have seen the same super healthy diet strengthen some and weaken others. Everything in moderating NOTHING in excess.
on September 27, 2012
at 03:45 AM
Well, the way I see it is, as with anything, always in moderation. Dark chocolate and higher quantities of cacao are better for you because they have less sugar but contain a lot of nutrients. However, consuming high quantities of caffeine everyday is very taxing on your body and can block nutrients from being absorbed into you body. Nothing should ever be looked at as a quick fix or cure all. Moderation is still the best way to go.
on March 15, 2012
at 12:36 AM
As of now, I have no plans to repurchase cacao. The reason is because I can feel a sharp pain on the side of my lower abdomen (probably my liver) whenever I eat it. This cannot be good for my health. I also experienced a severe panic attack when I consumed cacao and consistent jitters.
The main benefit of this product is the taste and the energizing aspect (good for early morning work shifts) but I will stick to regular cocoa or dutched cocoa in the future because I don't want to do damage to my liver or experience panic attacks. I have found that heating the cacao powder in the oven seems to solve this issue with the liver pain and my jitters are greatly reduced. Thanks for the article.
on October 15, 2011
at 12:22 AM
I was eating the raw organic nibs but wondered whether or not they were ever traditionally eaten raw in any large quantities. I asked this question to a very knowledgeable person at Taza Chocolate (they roast their nibs -- low heat and slow) and received a very lengthy explanation as to how traditional preparation methods invariably included some form of roasting and processing. I'm going to try Taza's roasted nibs after I finish the Theo organic roasted nibs I just bought at Whole Foods (impulse buy -- new item.) The Theo taste good so it will be interesting to compare with the Taza. Taza is single origin and roast at a lower temp. If one tolerates raw -- fine -- but if the cultures that brought us cocoa/chocolate processed it in some way, I think it's unnecessary to eat them raw. I thought roasting would destroy more antioxidants but perhaps it could also make what are available more bioavailable/digestible. I recommend organic unsweetened cocoa powder and nibs -- raw or roasted and Lindt's 99% Bar (wish it was organic, but it's not.) Bottom line -- who cares -- raw or not -- cocoa/chocolate is one of life's great pleasures. Enjoy!
Caveats: As with anything, anybody could have a sensitivity. Cocoa/chocolate can be a bladder irritant and anyone sensitive to oxalates or who is a kidney stone former or suffering from female pelvic/vaginal pain syndromes may want to try a trial without it and see if symptoms subside. For kidney stone formers -- a kidney doc buddy of mine who is stone former and also a total dark chocoholic says his trick is to keep portions small and dilute dilute dilute with several glasses of water before bed. He said an extra precaution is to eat a bit of cheese before the chocolate depending upon what kind of stone former one is. Certain stone formers do better with adding magnesium citrate/oxide or potassium citrate.
on October 14, 2011
at 11:19 PM
When i chewed raw Sri-Lankan cinnammon stick, I began to feel heaviness and pain in my kidney areas. Then after googleing I found out that someone has damaged his kidneys after using too much cinnammon. But when I used to drink cinnammon tea twice a day I didn't feel anything in my kidneys. When I ate 3 raw cacao beans already after 3 hours I began to feel the same pain in my kidneys as with raw cinnammon. However I used to eat dark chocolate since childhood whithout any problems in my kidneys. Conclusion: some raw spices and seeds can be toxic, but when cooked toxins probably are destroyed.
on June 07, 2011
at 12:30 AM
cacao was used by the natives usually royalty long before the European invasion....in a concoction which possibly had a synergistic benefit in its daily seasonal abuse ....time and marketing then digressed into the products consumed by modern man...which of course is toxic and no doubt a hybrid mutated tree that represents the norm today adds to this...
on March 09, 2011
at 09:40 PM
Both. The dose makes the poison.
on March 09, 2011
at 09:38 PM
Cacao makes me feel great for a few minutes. Then, I usually tend to crash, but whenever I give in, it's a total addiction. I don't think it's the best food for people with problems related to the adrenals, energy and even sleep. It has kept me up many times.
on March 09, 2011
at 09:32 PM
Hmm. So what's the conclusion here? I read everyone's entries. I ask because we eat raw cacao powder from time to time. It's especially good in hot chocolate (i suppose the heat of the water would make it 'unraw' at that point though). But it's also nice to put a spoonful in some cold raw milk and stir it up.
It is indeed touted as a very nutritious food, and I had never heard of people claiming toxicity problems before this thread. I've never noticed any particular issue after eating it, but maybe I'll pay closer attention now. Raw cacao powder is an amazingly rich source of magnesium. It would be a shame if it's not a good thing to eat.
on October 12, 2010
at 06:59 PM
Is Hershey's Cocoa ok? =p
on September 24, 2010
at 09:54 PM
Actually we are so stoked before that we started Cacao 100% raw powder from Ecuador as part of our daily supplement about 2 weeks ago. I thought we have extra energy throughout the day, but we later realized that our serotonin kicks in especially if you drink it in the morning and before going to bed. I thought this is good because it makes us sleepy starting around 9 pm we usually stay up late. We thought this is good because we sleep very well till the morning and so is our son, he is usually super hyper at the age of 6 and he doesn't take a nap after school starting around 4 pm. We can only give him the powder of raw cacao if its mixed in his ice cream, there's no other way he will drink it. So we thought this is good for him, he is sleeping starting 5 pm after school and wake up around 6 to 7 am. But his report card starting to show that he is "tired" at school during the day, eventhough he sleep pretty good. I also started to feel a sudden restlessness in the early morning eventhough im really, really sleepy. Hmmmm....and i started to have crumps even after my period and started noticing some blood in my vaginal discharged, which it never happens before. I trust my gut instinct and follow what my body tells me to take it or not. Well...i don't wanna wait till it's too late either to find out later the extent of its toxic in our body. I don't wanna discourage anyone since the elements and minerals found in it are amazing, maybe just google more information about it and the substance it contains whether its good or bad for our body.
on September 13, 2010
at 02:53 AM
Dr. Norman Hollenberg a medical professor from Harvard Medical School said that one of the polyphenols called epichatichen found in raw cacao could potentially get rid of 4 of the 5 most common diseases in the western world. He been studying the health benefits for years and documented the results.
If you can't trust him, who can you trust? Now there's other Drs. and scientists that are coming to the same conclusion. The last thing these experts want to do is ruin there good reputation by giving false information. I'd trust them over someone who's never done any scientific or clinical studies. Check out some of the hundreds of thousands of studies on flavonol rich cacao. How can you dispute all of them? If you do your due diligence you'll find out the many health benefits are irrefutable.
on March 18, 2010
at 10:13 PM
Not only does the linked article not contain any references, it contains little actual information. The author writes as if "cacao" was some unique discovery of the raw food movement (LOL). He mentions a couple of names. He makes some accusations. No quantities are given. In other words, it's all narrative, no method, and no numbers.