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Raw Chocolate - It's Good For You So Indulge!

By:  Terri Hedrick

Now, if you are a die-hard Hershey's fan, it might take some getting used to, but raw chocolate made from the cacao bean is delicious and really good for you too.

Cacao is the seed of a fruit which grows on trees in the Amazon. It is truly a food of the gods and was so revered by the Mayan and Aztec people that the beans were used as currency.

You can buy these nibs already peeled and packaged and can eat them plain or use them in a variety of recipes. Besides being packed full of good stuff such as magnesium, MAO inhibitors, Phenylethylamine and Anandamide, they taste good too!

I began eating these nibs because I am deficient in magnesium, as are many women and those who consume the Standard American Diet. (SAD) Correct magnesium levels are critical for maintaining proper sleep patterns. Often, when a person is deficient in magnesium, they have difficulty falling, or staying, asleep. When I get enough magnesium, I sleep like a baby. I was getting tired of taking synthetic supplements, and turned to cacao for a natural form of magnesium.

For those of you who suffer from depression, or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), cacao may help you too. These tiny nibs are packed full of monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors) which allow more serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain, and help one to feel good.

The neurotransmitter Anandamide is also found in cacao. This enzyme inhibitor is released while we are feeling great and is also known as "The Bliss Chemical."

Another feel-good chemical that is created in the brain is phenylethylamine (PEA). This is also found in chocolate and is a chemical released when we are in love. PEA also can help increase focus in some people. Any wonder why so many people seem to be in love with chocolate?

There are many ways to eat cacao. The nibs eaten alone are quite bitter and for me, have taken some getting used to. I enjoy eating a small handful plain every once in a while just for the sensation of eating this blissful food. I revel in the way it makes me feel afterward.

My favorite way to eat cacao is to blend the nibs together with a very ripe banana, some raw honey and some avocado. They are also good sprinkled on top of ice cream or melted in coffee or tea. I eat some in the morning as a treat and some in the early evening to prepare me for a restful night's sleep.