Every one of us needs a moment of comfort and bliss now and again. It’s our time to pause, take a deep breath and enjoy a little piece of pleasure. We call this the Om Moment.
Whether you go to your favourite yoga class, grab a cuppa with a friend, sink into a hot bath, or dive into some seriously good chocolate, you deserve to indulge your senses and recharge.
So how can cacao (the main ingredient in chocolate) help you seize your Om Moment?
Mmmm for magnesium
We often boast about the benefits of magnesium in cacao, and for good reason. As well as being vital for energy and for our muscles and nerves, this key mineral has a reputation for helping us relax. In fact, muscle relaxation is directly dependent on magnesium. And deficiency in this mineral is linked to symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, muscle twitching, anxiety, palpitations and even high blood pressure. Things many of us experience when we’re highly stressed!
Some of us can struggle to get enough magnesium in our diets, especially if we eat little in the way of vegetables and whole plant foods. But pure cacao can contain almost 500mg of magnesium per 100 grams1. So, a 35-gram raw chocolate bar with 90% cacao (like our 90% Cacao Bar for example) can give you over 150mg of magnesium – about 40 per cent of the daily-recommended intake for adults! This is what makes cacao such a valuable source.
As well as magnesium, cacao also contains neuroactive substances (meaning ‘having an effect on the nervous system’) that could influence mood, pleasure and relaxation. These substances in cacao include small amounts of phenylethylamine (PEA) – a chemical that’s made in our brain and is thought to boost our levels of feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin2. Cacao has even been found to contain small amounts of serotonin itself3.
It’s all about the enjoyment
Of course, aside from the potential benefits of these active substances, it could well be that the main reason for chocolate having a relaxing effect is simply its utter deliciousness! Foods that are highly palatable (i.e. really tasty) all stimulate the release of chemicals such as endorphins that boost mood and stimulate feelings of relaxation. In other words, doing (or eating) what you love helps you relax.
And the great thing about raw cacao is that, in contrast to most typical indulgent treats, you’re getting valuable nutrients and antioxidants that can benefit your health at the same time as helping you find your bliss. It’s a win-win all round!
The proof of the chocolate… is in the eating
If all this isn’t enough to convince you, research also suggests that cacao can reduce anxiety and improve mood.
In a study on 72 people, those who drank a chocolate drink high in cacao polyphenols every day for 30 days rated themselves as being calmer and more contented than those who didn’t have the cacao drink.5
So, next time you need an Om Moment, indulge in your favourite raw chocolate bar … and feel your troubles melt away!
- Nutritiondata.self.com. (n.d.). Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened Nutrition Facts & Calories. [online] Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com... [Accessed 2 Sep. 2018].
- Irsfeld M et al. β-phenylethylamine, a small molecule with a large impact. Webmedcentral. 2013 Sep 30;4(9). pii: 4409.
- Herraiz T. Tetrahydro-beta-carbolines, potential neuroactive alkaloids, in chocolate and cocoa. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Oct;48(10):4900-4.
- Yamada T et al. Anxiolytic effects of short- and long-term administration of cacao mass on rat elevated T-maze test. J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Dec;20(12):948-55.
- Pase MP et al. Cocoa polyphenols enhance positive mood states but not cognitive performance: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Psychopharmacol. 2013 May;27(5):451-8.