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Study reveals mental health benefits of drinking Cacao

Research suggests that the ancient South American practice of drinking 100% cacao could hold the key to supporting our mental wellbeing.

The news comes as charities in the UK get ready to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, which kicks off on 10 May, and a 21-Day Cacao Challenge which starts on 9 May.

The study involved a group of 52 people drinking 20gms of unsweetened ceremonial cacao every day. Participants refrained from coffee and all other stimulants during this time, including alcohol and tobacco.

Stress levels were measured prior to the 21 days and participants were asked to record how they were feeling. The study found that people felt less nervous and stressed after the 21 days (60% felt nervous and stressed before the study compared to just 6% afterwards) and more in control of their lives (58% felt unable to control the important things in life, falling to just 8% by the end of the study).

Cacao has always been considered a very important and powerful food, medicine, and even currency, for thousands of years. From the Mesoamerican and South American cultures, such as the Mayans and Aztecs, to the Spanish conquistadors that discovered Cacao, it was both revered and honoured.

Cacao has long been proven to have health benefits, thanks to its high levels of theobromine, which widens blood vessels, increases blood flow, and specifically stimulates the heart. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher can lower levels of cortisol.

The study was conducted by wellbeing company Ritual Cacao. Its Founder Rebekah Shaman said:

There seems to be a clear correlation between participants consuming ceremonial grade cacao and the reduction of their stress and anxiety levels.

At Ritual Cacao, we promote the use of cacao as a powerful medicinal plant, and perfect well-being remedy for these trying times.

The news follows a recent report by UCL, which found that health and wellbeing have suffered during lockdowns, with anxiety and depression levels now consistently higher than pre-pandemic averages.

Rebekah Shaman said:

Our upcoming Cacao Challenge coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week because while we have been so focused on our physical health, we are neglecting our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Cacao is a heart-opening plant packed full of nutrients and minerals to boost our immune systems and help us feel more peace and calm.

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