Cacao: The superfood to beat statins

This week my wife and I realized how good we feel after a raw cacao powder-banana smoothie.

It’s not all that surprising considering cacao has 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries.

But I decided to look further into cacao’s health benefits and was even more impressed… Cacao consumption has better cardiovascular disease reduction than statin drugs!

Let me show you the research. But, first, do you know the difference between cacao and cocoa?

Cacao powder versus chocolate

Although cocoa (chocolate) and cacao powder are both derived from the same cacao bean, there is a marked difference in health benefits between the two. Cocoa (typical chocolate found in stores) is obtained after cacao beans are roasted at high temperatures, thus destroying many antioxidant phytonutrients. Furthermore, cocoa goes through an alkalizing process to make the flavor and color more “chocolate” marketable, thus losing much of the magnesium and calcium of the natural cacao bean.

Even worse, saturated fats and refined sugar (sucrose) are added to cocoa to make it a high-calorie dessert and not a superfood.

In contrast, cacao powder is a superfood. How so? Raw cacao powder contains hundreds of nutrient compounds including phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals (magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium) and omega 6 fatty acids.

One of cacao’s phytonutrients is anandamide, a natural euphoric lipid compound. Anandamide binds to cannabinoid receptors in your brain and mimics the psychoactive effects of cannabis.  In fact, several studies even demonstrate that anandamide is involved in the addiction-producing actions of other (abused) drugs, acting as a behavioral reinforcer.

Another mood enhancer found in raw cacao is the natural antidepressant, tryptophan.

This is just the beginning of what cacao can do for you. Let’s now look at cacao’s impressive track record for cardiovascular health and more.

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Cacao reduces cardiovascular disease more than a statin drug

I am not “anti-statin,” but I don’t promote statins if there are better and safer (and less costly) ways to reduce cardiovascular disease.

I have previously written here about 7 better-than-statin methods to lower your risk of heart disease. Now I know that a generous daily dose of cacao power (in a smoothie is fine) is more effective in reducing heart attack and stroke risk than statins, according to a comparison of meta-analyses.

This has been known for nearly nine years, but why have we never heard of this before?

Well, for one, there is little money for Big Pharma if cacao consumption is on the headlines for all to see. Doctors are not promoting cacao as far as I know.

In a 2011 British Medical Journal, Italian researchers analyzed data from meta-analyses, which were cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional observational studies. They analyzed data from 114,009 participants. They discovered there was a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease (more than statins, see below) and a 29 percent reduction in stroke among those who consumed the highest amounts of cacao compared with consumers of the lowest levels.

Now compare that to the meta-analyses looking at the cardiovascular risk reduction by statin pills. The Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration looked at 170,000 participants in the study on statin therapy and showed a 22 percent relative risk (RR) reduction in a heart attack or stroke. When high or low dose statin therapy was taken by participants they found a 14 percent reduction in death from vascular events and a 10 percent reduction in overall death.

Earlier this year a new meta-analysis reported in The Lancet shows that statins do help reduce the risk of a heart attack in those aged 75 years and older, however previously statins were not thought to help this age group. Researchers reported their analysis of 28 randomized controlled trials including 186,854 patients with a mean age of 63 years. Of the total study participants, 14,483 were over age 75. The overall risk reduction ranged from 30 percent in those aged less than 55 years to around 20 percent in those aged over 75.

Because I love the taste of the raw cacao powder in my smoothie, I’d like to share a bit more about the other health benefits of cacao in my next report.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!

Sources:

  1. James JS. Marijuana and chocolateAIDS Treat News. 1996 Oct 18;(No 257):3-4. PubMed PMID: 11363932
  2. Scherma M, Masia P, Satta V, Fratta W, Fadda P, Tanda G. Brain activity of anandamide: a rewarding bliss? — Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2019 Mar;40(3):309-323. Review. PubMed PMID: 30050084
  3. Buitrago-Lopez A, Sanderson J, Johnson L, Warnakula S, Wood A, Di Angelantonio E, Franco OH. Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysisBMJ. 2011 Aug 26;343:d4488. Review. PubMed PMID: 21875885
  4. Virani SS. Statins in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in women: facts and mythsTex Heart Inst J. 2013;40(3):288–289
  5. Jane Armitage, Colin Baigent, Elizabeth Barnes, et al. Efficacy and safety of statin therapy in older people: a meta-analysis of individual participant data from 28 randomised controlled trialsThe Lancet, 2019; 393 (10170): 407
Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.