If you've ever been on a chocolate tour (...if you haven't, do it now!), you probably know that our sweet, sweet friend comes from humble beginnings in the form of the cacao bean.
As it turns out, we may actually be able to have our chocolate and eat it too. (Organic) raw cacao nibs are filled with tons of antioxidants and a variety of vital neurotransmitters. If you find yourself reaching for a chocolate bar when depressed, you may not be so far off. Cacao contains the neurotransmitter serotonin which is largely responsible for positive mood. Since it also contains MAOI inhibitors, this allows the serotonin to circulate in the brain longer, allowing for an extended elevated mood.
Cacao also contains anandamide, a chemical known for inducing natural states of bliss in humans. Even better (yes, there's more!), this little bean contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our ability to breakdown natural anadamide, allowing for the extension of the natural bliss state.
Among some of the features contained in this super food are phenylethylamine (the neurotrasmitter released when we are in love), sulfur (detoxify your live), magnesium (great for heart and circulatory system) and zinc (helps your immune system).
So while I've already tried adding raw cacao nibs to cookies and having them just as a snack, I figure you can never have to much. This is where the beautiful drink picture above comes in. It's a cold drink of blended lucuma and cacao with soy milk from newly open vegan restaurant Vantra (Soho, London). At 3 pounds, this drink was a bit steep, but totally worth it! I've gotten it three times since (and once I return home to a working blender I intend to try it at home).
Do remember, however, that there is much to be considered around the ethics of chocolate. Please opt for fair trade, environmentally sustainable chocolate whenever you can. A few of my favorites are (Taza and Global Exchange). If you prefer to get the benefits in a sweeter form, make sure to get chocolate at least over 80%.