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The cacao tree is native to the Amazon Basin. It was domesticated by the Olmecs and Mokaya (Mexico and Central America). More than 4,000 years ago, it was consumed by pre-Columbian cultures along the Yucatán, including the Maya, and as far back as the Olmeca civilization in spiritual ceremonies. Cocoa’s scientific name is Theobroma.
The tree reaches a height of between 4-9 meters in height and can have a width of between 2-4 meters. The tree has a round shape bearing fruit of varying oblong sizes of between 15-30 cm. Cocoa has mainly been grown in the states of Tabasco and Chiapas and has played an important part in the shaping of Mexico’s history and culture.
The most common use of cocoa is in the production of chocolate which is made from the seeds of the cocoa tree’s fruit. It is created by combining the cocoa fruit seeds and sugar; however, there are a variety of other products made from cocoa, some of which are liquors, powders and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter has many benefits in skin care and is used as a skin conditioner as well as in the treatment of wound healing.
The neuro-protective effects of cocoa are many and effect the cognitive system through its polyphenol and flavonoid components. Flavonoids dilate the arteries and help in blood circulation which promotes brain function, improving mental performance and memory. It may also slow down the aging process.
Though cocoa’s amazing abilities the brain is able to function at a higher level with improved memory and information processing.
In clinical use, cocoa is used as an aid for weight gain as well as helping patients that require more energy to fight off diseases. Patients with weak immune systems, who are exhausted from a lack of energy or that suffer from depression find that the stimulation of their nervous system through the use of cocoa is very beneficial.
Some of the most common cerebrovascular diseases (CVD) including dementia, a cognitive impairment causing motor impairment and strokes may be treated with a medical form of cocoa. The benefit of the fat content in cocoa helps with the entire digestive system and may perform as a mild laxative preventing stress within the system.
Where can I purchase cocoa?
The purest form of Cocoa is normally found in organic health stores. Although many stores carry some form of cocoa in diverse product selections it is very important to read labels to determine if additives, sugars, preservatives or other chemicals have been added which would not provide the same health benefits as the purest version of cocoa.
In the case of chocolate, the higher the cocoa percentage the higher the health benefit. Dark chocolate of 80% cocoa without a lot of added sugar is a very healthy choice. It is important that the percentage of cocoa far outweighs the percentage of sugar in snack products.
Including a variety of healthy cocoa based foods and products into your diet and skin care regime will help you to live a healthy lifestyle!
For more about cocoa see the links below: