cacao beans

It is always a delight to find foods and beverages that taste good and are good for you as well. Cacao, the source of cocoa and chocolate, ranks high on our list of favorites. The polyphenols it contains have numerous health benefits.

Starting the Day with Unsweetened Cacao:

Q. Your recent show on chocolate and its health benefits was appreciated. We start our day with granite stone ground cacao with chiles and cinnamon in coconut milk as our morning beverage. This has eased inflammation and cut sugar cravings throughout the day.

A. We appreciate your unusual recipe and notice that your hot morning beverage does not contain sugar. Your potion combining cacao with cinnamon and chile peppers mimics the way that the Mayans used to use cacao. They considered it a sacred plant.

What Are the Benefits of Cacao?

Susanna Larsson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has reported that both tea and cocoa help relax the blood vessels. In addition, cocoa improves sensitivity to insulin. These physiological mechanisms may help explain why cocoa consumption is associated with a reduced risk of stroke (Stroke, Jan., 2014). Dr. Larsson is not the only investigator who has found that cocoa flavonoids can reduce insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Nov. 18, 2015).

The compounds in cocoa also reduce oxidative stress in the body and keep platelets from clumping together to form clots as well as fighting inflammation (Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, June, 2013). Cacao polyphenols also encourage nitric oxide production and improve mitochondrial function (Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine, Dec., 2015).

A small study in older adults found that a drink high in cocoa flavanols can improve blood flow in the brain (Psychopharmacology, Sep., 2015). Some scientists believe that this may mean that unsweetened cacao could help preserve cognitive function as we age (Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2016).

Is Cocoa Really Good for You?

Whenever new research appears on the health benefits of cacao (from which chocolate is made), public health experts harrumph that chocolate is too high in sugar to be healthy. No doubt that is true, but you have found a way using unsweetened cacao to bypass the sugar and enjoy the benefits. Thanks for your testimonial.

Another way to get the healthful cocoa flavanols is with a supplement specifically designed to provide them. CocoaVia makes such a supplement. The company sponsored our newsletter in the past. It is currently contributing to the COSMOS study to see whether the compounds from cacao can help prevent stroke, cancer and heart disease.

Revised 12/5/2016

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  1. mes

    I’d love the recipe and where to find the granite stone ground cacao.

  2. fbl

    I’ve been using a recipe for my afternoon hot chocolate treat for over 14 years. I’ve lost a huge amount of weight very gradually-yup, about 100 lbs. I use organic coconut oil, cinnamon, organic free-trade cocoa, stevia, boiling water and heavy cream (non-pasturized). I’m losing my source for non-pasturized cream soon…sigh..
    It has practically stopped my sweet tooth and “sugar drunks”. I’d given up with dieting just before I started using the coconut oil so the weight loss was an incredible surprise. I’m still about 20 pounds heavier than I’d like but I refuse to diet! My appetite is about 1/4 of what it used to be anyway.
    Do you use the Cassia cinnamon for your recipe or the Ceylon? I’ve read that the Ceylon is better for the liver.

  3. plm

    I, too would like the recipe for the drink. Thank you.

  4. cs

    I put organic, raw cacao powder in coffee, with fresh, home grown stevia stems and/or leaves. I’m chemically sensitive and get no negative reactions from the combination. It provides a wonderful, tasty treat, plus all the benefits of cacao!

  5. LBPeebles

    I, too, would like the question originator to share the recipe for what sounds like a great morning beverage.

  6. LHL

    Your response seems to use cacao (the originator’s term) and cocoa interchangeably. My understanding is that the latter is refined from the former and is less nutrient-rich; please advise.
    People’s Pharmacy response: Cacao is used to refer to the tree and its seeds. Cocoa is the fermented dried ground powder from those seeds, usually fat free or low fat. Cocoa, if handled carefully, conserves most of the nutrients of interest (primarily proanthocyanidins). Very few people have access to raw cacao, but almost all of us can use cocoa powder in simple recipes.

  7. Elizabeth

    Every morning I put a heaping teaspoon of pure, unsweetened cocoa in each cup of coffee – I generally drink three cups of coffee. I add a bit of Stevia to sweeten it. In the evening I eat a couple of squares of 70% high quality chocolate. This is not a regimen that is difficult to keep as it’s delicious and inexpensive.

  8. Carol C.

    Yes, please share the recipe for this beverage. Thanks.

  9. AM

    I would also like the recipe for this anti-inflammatory drink.

  10. Janis Morris

    Yes…please try to post the actual recipe. There are so many different kinds of chile. The anti inflammatory effect may be specific to what was used.

  11. fbl

    I’ll share my recipe for hot chocolate. I’ve been having this as an afternoon treat for over 14 years. I am about 100 pounds lighter (w/o dieting!) and despite the heart aftermath from a shoulder harness trauma, I have survived. The car accident was in March of 2006. I attribute my survival to my hot chocolate and my Rebounder.
    I preheat a mug and put 2 TB of coconut oil in the bottom, cover the mug and let the coconut oil melt off the measuring spoon. I then add Equal Exchange Baking Cocoa, a few dashes of cinnamon and a fat pinch of Celtic Sea Salt. After stirring the mix until it is creamy I pour boiling water almost to the top and stir well. I use a liquid stevia for sweetener and then add heavy cream, about 7 tsp.
    Start slowly with the coconut oil as it will clean out your liver. Not all stevias are created equal and I finally found a liquid one online that is really good. Make sure that you get a good cream that does NOT have carrenagen. I played around with recipes early on and this is the one I like the best. Yes, I did try coconut milk too. Play around with the amount of cocoa you use. Individual tastes differ.
    One of the most amazing things about starting this cocoa habit is that I have lost my “sweet tooth” and rarely go on a “sugar drunk”. Yes, sugar had been a problem for me. Fortunately I didn’t develop diabetes, but was probably heading in that direction. Yes, I can enjoy a sweet from time to time but can do so without pigging out. My hubby’s ice cream is now safe!
    After 14+ years of this daily treat my skin is amazing. Yes, even for a 68 year old gal who does not use cosmetics because of allergies. My ankles have never swollen through all my heart trials and tribulations. Using the Rebounder daily helps too of course.

  12. SR

    I would be interested in the recipe as well. Sounds like it would be very helpful for us.

  13. Kahleen

    Any excuse to drink cocoa I will take…LOL

  14. Peggyb

    Actual recipe please. And where are you getting the cacao? Are you grinding it yourself?

  15. MJW

    Yes, a recipe would be appreciated.

  16. AA

    Me too, Bruce. I’d like to know where they purchase the granite stone ground cacao, in what form the chiles and cinnamon are and the quantities for all ingredients. I assume they are all powder and that they don’t strain/filter the chile and cinnamon but I’d like to know for sure.

  17. LG

    Love it! I usually start my day in a similar fashion: hot decaf coffee, almond milk, unsweetened cocoa and a little Stevia. A yummy and healthy cafe mocha. I also make a vegan chocolate mousse with unsweetened cocoa, Stevia, avocado, almond milk and vanilla. It’s amazingly delicious.

  18. Carla

    I agree: without the recipe, this item is sort of a “tease.” Please do share the details.

  19. CSV

    I make a smoothie with a frozen banana, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a few chunks of pineapple, coconut flakes and unsweetened pure cocoa and it tastes like a chocolate banana milk shake with no added white sugar. Tastes delicious!

  20. Peppy

    I love the unsweetened CocoaVia packets of chocolate drink. I warm unsweetened almond milk and put a packet in for the morning wake-me-up drink. I have also put a packet in a hot cup of Roma (grain beverage) with no sugar added, a little unsweetened almond milk for a morning beverage. All very tasty and I hope healthful! Has CocoaVia been scientifically tested? I have heard that milk is not compatible with chocolate and ruins the healthy cocoa benefits. Is this true?
    People’s Pharmacy response: CocoaVia has in fact been scientifically tested. As for the milk, it can form complexes with some flavanol compounds to make them less absorbable. We have not seen much research on this for almond milk, however.

  21. DMK

    Could you share your recipe? Thanks :)

  22. MD

    Amen to Bruce’s request. Sounds like a rather stiff drink without any sweetener. I use my own honeybee’s honey when consuming cacoa but would appreciate amounts and dosages revealed when people mention what they have found works for them – at least something to use as a guideline. Thank you.

  23. BAFS

    Interesting. I too, would like the recipe.

  24. cpmt

    Yes please I will like to know it too (the recipe) and where can I get cocoa beans ‘granite stone ground cocoa’? I’ve never seen this in any store. Thank you.

  25. Bruce H.

    Could the originator of this Question please share his or her actual recipe for the morning cocoa drink? I’d be interested in knowing the proportions and the steps they use for making it.

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