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Have We Been Fooled About The Claimed Benefits of Dark Chocolate and Cacao?

As part of a growing campaign to rebrand it as a health food, chocolate and raw cacao has been heavily marketed in recent years while attempting to convince consumers on the health benefits. It marks a new era in chocolate marketing prompted by research that has shown dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which can help protect cells and potentially prevent disease. But how healthful is it really?

After the link between dark chocolate and antioxidants was made several years ago, well-known confectionery companies such as Hershey, Mars and Dove began launching new dark chocolate products as a way to appeal to consumers.

Now, new companies are going one step further by promoting their dark chocolate products not just as treats with a nutritional benefit, but as health foods.

Cocoa solids contain alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have physiological effects on the body. It has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain. The presence of theobromine renders chocolate toxic to some animals, especially dogs and cats. It is toxic to many animals because of insufficient capacity to metabolize theobromine which can persist for over 24 hours in animals. Some animals can develop theobromine poisoning from as little as 50 grams of chocolate.

So why is it not as toxic to people you might ask? It can be. Theobromine is a addictive stimulant, vasodilator (a blood vessel widener), a diuretic (causes the release of water), affecting the heart and kidneys. Although, theobromine has a lesser impact on the human central nervous system than caffeine, it does stimulate the heart to a greater degree as a myocardial stimulant.

Theobromine is known to induce gene mutations in lower eukaryotes and bacteria. At the time of a 1991 report, further updated in 1997, by the IARC, genetic mutations had been found in higher eukaryotic cells, specifically cultured mammalian cells, but the compound was still listed as having inadequate evidence for classification of human carcinogenicity

Chocolate also absorbs lead from the environment during production, and there is a slight concern of mild lead poisoning for some types of chocolate. Lead concentration of chocolate was as high as 70 ng/g for chocolate products and 230 ng/g for manufactured cocoa.

The raw food industry is no exception to the mass marketing of cacao. Sales for raw cacao have skyrocketed in the past 5 years. Although some raw food leaders highly promote cacao as something that should be revered as a food of the Gods, others have spoken out against raw cacao and raw chocolate. Who should you believe?

“Many people are being mislead to believe cacao and other foods are healthy. Many of the people who promote it, have a good heart and really feel it is a good food, but I know there are many who sell this product knowing it is toxic and addictive, just to make money,” stated Diana Stoevelaar from

Many raw food leaders including Victoria Boutenko, Dr. Doug Graham, Frederic Patenaude, Paul Nison, Jeremy Safron, Dr. Fred Bisci, and Dr. Brian Clement, have already come to the conclusion that raw cacao is not a superfood but an addictive stimulant.

Dr. Neal Barnard has stated in his lecture, Breaking the Food Seduction, namely that, “Chocolate, just like sugar, elicits an opiate reaction within the brain that trips the dopamine receptors and gives us a pleasure response…I don’t mean to say that chocolate is a drug. What I mean to say is that chocolate is the whole darn drugstore!

When Narcan or Noloxone, the drugs used to block opiate receptors for those suffering a heroine overdose are used in research studies for those with a chocolate addiction, test subjects lose their desire for chocolate.

Chocolate can have many negative effects on people. It actually kills a lot of animals suddenly because it’s raw. Now the raw food movement has attempted to convince us that it’s good for humans.

Cacao is a very average antioxidant, and if you are looking to take cacao to increase you antioxidant levels, it’s a bad way to do it because cacao increases your metabolism, in an artificial way, it makes your heart beat faster and creates, actually, adrenaline in your body. It actually uses up more antioxidants than it provides you. It also doesn't come close to the antioxidant value of spices when comparing ORAC values.

Jeremy Safron’s findings were as follows:

  • Cacao is one of the most addictive substances known.
  • In some cases of long term use there are also psychological effects that range from addictive tendencies, sexual dysfunction, violent outbursts, lack of reasoning, and decreased will.
  • At mega does of 40 plus beans it acts as a hallucinogen and can cause many effects attributed to LSD or Hashish.
  • Cacao is super toxic to the liver.
  • The result of long term use is a high level of liver and blood toxicity which can cause extreme: mood swings, angry outbursts, violence, depression, paranoia, and dizziness.
  • 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.
  • It acts as a stimulant and agitates the kidneys and adrenal glands this can cause: insomnia, nightmares, waking up in the middle of the night, shakes, and extreme energy shifts.
  • 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. (as with dogs)
  • 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 emergences.
  • Native people did not eat it as a food nor as a supplement, but only for sacred use.
  • When Native people did eat it, they only ate the fruit which contained the benefits without the detriments.

Jeremy Safron’s final stand on cacao is that it is for medicinal, sacred and for entertainment usage only; it is not a health food!

"The processing of cacao beans into powder and chocolate is an unsanitary, risky procedure to say the least. To be blunt - chocolate and cacao are laced with animal feces and hair, insects, and molds. The carcinogenic mold called aflatoxin has been found in large quantities on cacao beans.” and continues…” said raw food expert Paul Nison.

Whether you like the taste of chocolate to pleasure your senses or consume it as a health food, some say everything is moderation. Others say, why ingest any food source that has toxic elements?



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