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?
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.
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.
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
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.