CAN CACAO ACTUALLY Help You Sleep Better?
THE SURPRISING RESTORATIVE EFFECTS OF CACAO
If you’re like most people, a hot cup of cocoa is part of your best memories as a kid; running in from the cold and drinking that chocolatey goodness. So soothing, warming, comforting and calming. Your feelings about this drink and chocolate in general were not an illusion either. Magnesium, a mineral known to reduce stress and anxiety is found in cocoa and so is tryptophan (transforms into serotonin in the brain).
Here’s why that’s important.
Over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in magnesium. And according to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep.
Coincidence? Probably not.
Magnesium, often referred to as the ‘sleep mineral’ is instrumental in sleep and is a natural relaxant that helps deactivate adrenaline. And boy has this pandemic activated our adrenals! A lack of magnesium can be directly linked to difficulty going and staying asleep. Magnesium also fights acid buildup, neutralizes toxins, calms sensitivity to pain, quiets nerves, builds strong bones and teeth and is essential for many other functions. And drumroll please …. Cacao is said to be the highest magnesium containing food on the planet!
What’s more, Tryptophan is an amino acid that when ingested gets turned into the neurotransmitter serotonin and then converted into the hormone melatonin. Serotonin is known as the “Happy chemical” and raw cacao boosts the body’s natural production of it, increasing our mood and ability to fend off stress.
Both magnesium and tryptophan, are necessary chemicals for the production of serotonin. Tryptophan is heat-volatile and therefore non-existent in cooked chocolate, making raw chocolate an excellent way to obtain dietary tryptophan.
DIVING DEEPER INTO CACAO'S CHEMICAL ANATOMY
Theobromine = “Food of the Gods”
The name "theobromine" comes from the word "Theobroma" as the name of the genus of the cacao tree (which itself is made up of the Greek roots theo ("God") and brosi ("food"), meaning "food of the gods")
Let’s take it a step further beyond ‘feel good’ to a state of Euphoria and bliss. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid found in cacao, as well as a number of other foods, including the leaves of the tea plant, and kola nuts. Theobromine has been studied to have “anti-aging” benefits, as it reduces blood pressure, supports against oxidative damage, cardio-protective, raises HDL levels (good cholesterol), protects the brain, anti-inflammatory, and more.
MINIMAL CAFFEINE CONTENT
Cacao’s minimal caffeine content is often confused with a similar alkaloid, theobromine. Caffeine is said to be a nervous system stimulant, whereas theobromine is a cardiovascular stimulant, increasing heart function and blood flow and has about one quarter the stimulating power of caffeine. Cacao contains about twice as much theobromine as caffeine.
Phenylethylamine (PEA), is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body when we fall in love. It is contained in high amounts in raw Cacao and is another reason Cacao is such a renewed longevity superfood also associated with Valentine’s day and as a gift for lovers. PEA is heat-sensitive and is only present in unroasted, uncooked, raw Cacao.
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that has been isolated in Cacao, and is released naturally in the brain when we are feeling happy. Aside from containing Anandamide, Cacao also contains enzyme inhibitors, which inhibit the breakdown of anandamide in the body, thus increasing its uptake and contributing to sensations of ‘bliss’ associated with raw Cacao. In Sanskrit, Ananda means ‘bliss’, making this the ‘bliss chemical’.
For those of you with a busy schedule, or prone to stress, or simply in need of a restorative + creative boost, raw cacao is your ally. Because of its vasodilating properties, (the ability to widen blood vessels and improve circulation), it lowers your blood pressure, becoming a relaxing, soothing, cardio + brain protective, longevity medicine. Its highly nutritious makeup, along with the calming effects of magnesium, and tryptophan, and the euphoric-heart centered energy of PEA (phenylethylamine) and anandamide makes for an exquisite sleep remedy.
No wonder it's a tradition for mothers in the rainforest to give kids cacao milk before bed. We'll toast with our giant hot chocolate mug to that!
RESTORATIVE BEAUTY SLEEP LATTE
Since I had my little ones, I’ve been one of the worst at respecting healthy sleep hygiene for myself. The seemingly never-ending amount of sleepless nights has certainly made me into a groggy and unenthused human being at times! I was surviving by slamming adaptogens when I could to cope with work and babies. But then, after trying everything, cacao is what honestly helped the most. A light raw cacao milk, with adaptogens and nervines, right before bed was the perfect cozy cup that helped me roll into bed without feeling completely drained the next morning and, with brighter skin.
- 1Tbsp Raw Cacao powder
- 1tsp Collagen Booster Elixir (or sub for 1/2tsp collagen booster powder)
+ ½ tsp Ashwagandha - nature's chill pill
- 1 cup Full Fat Coconut or Oat Milk (or any plant-based milk of choice)
- 4oz hot water
- 1 date, or sweetener of choice (optional!)
Other potential add on's for deeper relaxation
*(stick to 1-2 of the formulas below, or it'll be a little too relaxing!)
+ ½ tsp Dream Elixir - Lucid dreaming elixir
+ ½ tsp Dolores Tonic - Pain + stress relief tonic
+ ½ tsp Mulungu - Amazonian hypnotic
Super easy way: Blend until frothy, use the date for this recipe, or any sweetener of choice. Pour into a cozy mug and sip immediately!
Slower meditative way: Heat the water in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk the cacao and herbs in circular motion. Add in your milk, and whisk until very frothy. Don't let it boil! Turn off the fire after a minute or so of whisking. Remember! for all liquid tonics, add at the very end when the fire is off, or straight into your mug. Dust with some cacao at the top to make it beautiful!
FEATURED RICH CACAO PRODUCTS
Our full fat raw cacao comes from a true fair trade farm that uses heirloom ancestral seeds. The farm is certified “denominacion de origen”, which is a certification you often see in vineyards in Europe. This certificate ensures high caliber farming based on the quality of air, soil, and water of the highest integrity.