by Kate Magic
In 2006, when raw chocolate really started to catch on in the raw food movement, Paul Nison wrote an article stating unequivocally that cacao is not a health food. Similiarly, the Hippocrates Health Institute often express their disapproval of this latest food fad. We get asked about the reputed downsides of cacao so often, we thought it best to make clear where, in our belief, this negative opinion stems from.
Cacao, like many of the superfoods, blurs the line between food and medicine. It has such a remarkable transformative effect that is highly powerful. We have seen people overdo it on cacao, and abuse its magic. It should be treated with reverence, and valued for its sacred attributes. A sustainable raw food diet is about balance, and too much of any one food is never good. The basis of a holistic diet should always be plenty of alkalising vegetables, local, seasonal, and organic wherever possible. Certainly a diet where cacao is the main food is not advisable.
The main issue I feel with eating too much chocolate is the fat and the sugars. Sure, raw fooders use healthy fats and low-glycaemic sweeteners, but it's still best not to overdo these foods. That's one of the main reasons I'm passionate about getting superfoods into your dinners: sprinkle some cacao nibs onto your salad or blend some into a tomato sauce. It's a lot more effective way to get your cacao quota and removes the need for excess sugars in sweets and smoothies.
Excess cacao can stress the adrenals, but that would only be after repeated binge eating of the food, and if you were eating that much cacao, you would be aware that your diet was out of balance. Also in my experience, if you have been raw a long time before you start experimenting with cacao, you have a much solid, cleaner foundation. People who eat lots of cacao when they still have a lot of detoxing to do are more likely to be adversely affected by it as the potency of the food brings up emotional and physical issues.
To me, one of the greatest joys of the cacao revolution is how many people it has brought to raw foods. I have seen so many people get into raw foods through the back door, as it were. They discover raw chocolate because they are looking for dairy-free or sugar-free treats, and then get turned on to the whole raw foods movement that way. It has also enabled a lot of people transititioning to stay on a high raw diet. When you have cacao to fall back on, why bother with potatoes or bread?
All cacao being sold by raw food companies in this country has passed strict tests for mold and fungal growth. Yes, it can be a problem with raw cacao nibs, but not with the high quality the UK distributors ensure is being offered. If you want to research the nutritional properties of cacao further, Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe and Shazzie covers this subject in extensive detail. No-one is suggesting cacao is a perfect food; we are just excited to share our experiences and the potential we believe it has to help transform humanity at this critical time. If you ended up listening to everyone, and taking on board the negative potentials of absolutely all foods, you would end up eating nothing. Except you can't even do that, because then you would have the anti-breatharian lobby on your case.
People often ask is cacao addictive, and I find it interesting to bring up here the whole question of what is addiction? To be human is in its very definition to be imperfect: if we were perfect we would be up there with the angels and ascended masters. And as imperfect beings, we all have crutches that we depend upon to get us through the challenges of life. For most people, these are unhealthy dependencies: as well as the obvious ones like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, people get attached to the TV, or develop unhealthy patterns in their relationships. When you choose to live a conscious life, you start to swap these damaging patterns for ones which help you grow and raise your vibration. So your crutches might be yoga, or a particular meditation class, or a certain guru: these are things you need to have in your life every day, to feel you can sustain your lifestyle. As we are all addicted to something, we might as well have beneficial addictions which assist us in becoming more of who we really are. Sure, I eat cacao most days, and I also do yoga and cuddle my children and listen to music. I would miss the uplifting effects of cacao in the same way I would miss my children if I didn't see them all day; to me, that is not an addiction, that is an awareness of what tools work for me and an intelligent desire to utilise those tools to the maximum.
Anything powerful draws negative reactions as well as positive. If there is a new wave in music, don't older generations moan about the awful racket? When you were a teenager getting into the latest fashions, didn't your mother tell you how awful you looked? Mine did. People feel threatened by something that breaks down their existing paradigms, that challenges their consensus reality, and cacao, as the "you can have your cake and eat it" food, does just that. It is not about denial, it is not about strict adherence to a regime, it is about celebration and some people are not ready to embrace that fully. We are all exactly where we are meant to be, doing exactly what we are meant to be doing, and some of us are cacao lovers and some of us are not. That's what makes life interesting, our unique differences. Cacao is a food of the heart; rules come from the head. Cacao is about breaking all the rules, and to me, that is a good thing. It pushes me to live in my truth, in the moment, it is fun, it is exhilarating, and it is what life is really all about.
Paul Nison sells cacao through his website, with the justification below. I'll leave you to decide for yourself if you trust his logical processes or not.
"Many people have told me if I had it on my site they would buy other products as well. So I have decided to sell it for the simple reason that if I didn't, I could not keep my site open anymore. I am not selling Cacao to make money off of it or to promote it, I am selling it so people will get other products from my website and they won't have to worry about an extra shipping cost from another website. Please note this warning I have put on all Cacao products on my site!"