On October 1, Peru celebrates the National Day of Chocolate and Cacao. Cacao is one of the country’s most prized natural productsLearn more about its health benefits.

Native to the Amazon region, cacao is one of Peru’s top exports. In 2017, exports for chocolate mounted to $6.95 million dollars. It’s also one of the country’s most prized resources. The cacao bean is continuously recognized in international contests for its top quality. Beyond the figures and the pomp, the health benefits of cacao cannot be overlooked. Below just a few reasons why you should include cacao in your diet.

  1. Stimulates the nervous system: Cacao contains a series of components that act as stimulants and euphoriants. This quality translates into a feeling of well-being due to the presence of phenylethylamine, the quality in the brain that triggers a state of emotional well-being and euphoria.
  2. Boosts your mood: Cacao helps increase the production of endorphins, the hormones that improve our mood. In addition, it stands out as an energy food, so it helps us regain strength in situations of physical and mental fatigue.
  3. Stimulates the digestive system: In addition to its qualities as a stimulant of our nervous system and our emotions, cacao is also a good source of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.
  4. Fights constipation: Several studies have confirmed the benefits of cacao as a natural relief against constipation, thanks precisely to the fact that it becomes an ideal food to tone and stimulate the digestive system. A study conducted by the Louisiana State University (in the United States), found that certain substances present in cacao reach the colon, where they are fermented by good microorganisms and bacteria present in our bacterial flora.
  5. Good for cardiovascular health: Cacao is very rich in antioxidants. These natural compounds are able to prevent the negative action of free radicals in our body, helping to prevent the degeneration of our cells (responsible for the appearance of diseases). Because of this richness in antioxidants, cacao is ideal for our cardiovascular system, preventing the onset of heart disease. In addition, it helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.
  6. Good for your skin, fights cellulites: These same benefits have an important anti-cellulite, antioxidant and even softening activity, which are used by chocolate therapy: a therapy that consists of applying chocolate on the skin through massages.
  7. Practice moderate consumption: Despite the numerous benefits of cacao, it should be taken in adequate amounts if possible side effects are to be avoided. Thus, for example, it is not recommended in cases of suffering from hypertension and nervousness, because cacao contains traces of caffeine that can make this situation worse. Also, due to the presence of tannins, active ingredients with astringent properties, its intake is not recommended in cases of constipation and hemorrhoids.

This article was originally published in Andina.