Cacao is a fruit native to tropical climates and the Amazon Basin of Central and South America. The fruits are pods, and when opened, has a creamy white seed. The seeds are dried and roasted to form raw cacao. Cacao is the unprocessed version of chocolate. It was not only revered by the Aztec, Incans and Mayans, but used as a currency as well. In Aztec culture, cacao was more precious than gold itself. The first discovery of cacao was found in Ancient Olmec pots dating to around 1500 B.C with traces of theobromine, a chemical compound active in cacao.
Theobromine means ‘food of the gods’, and was traditionally only used by priests in special rituals, and drunk by kings and queens.
Cacao was commonly used in rituals by the Aztec, Inca, and Maya. They each have their own traditions, and the Mayans passed it onto the Aztecs, having cultivated cacao as early as 600 BC. Ceremonial cacao is pure, unprocessed, to maximize health benefits. When cacao is processed and the butter removed, it turns into ‘cocoa powder’.
Ceremonial grade cacao is 100% raw, sugar free, and unprocessed. It has an extremely bitter taste, and can be blended with a mixture of water, herbs and spices. The Mayans traditionally added chilis to their cacao, while the Aztecs enjoyed it whipped into a froth and served without anything. You can experiment with cacao and add a number of herbs; lavender, honey, cardamom, cinnamon, coconut milk, etc.
The primary compound of cacao is theobromine, which stimulates blood circulation, opening the heart. Users experience vasodilation, increased energy, stamina, and an overall sense of well being. Cacao is a wonderful alternative to caffeine as well.