The benefits of cacao stretch from a deep spiritual one to a nice daily healthy energy. Since we learned about cacao we enjoy it regularly as a casual drink in the morning or afternoon. There are various reasons why you might consider cacao over coffee. It is a milder stimulant and contains various healthy compounds. Cacao gives a more grounded and sustained energy, contains happiness molecules, minerals, antioxidants and improves cognitive performance.
Coffee has a stronger peak and dip
Coffee can be delicious and is a go-to energizer for many, especially at work. It can however have quite an intense peak and dip, is addictive and gives some of us a jittery sensation. How coffee affects you is partly genetically determined, depends on your sensitivity, and to what extent it disrupts your sleep. Maybe you can drink multiple cups a day or one cup is already intense for you.
Cacao has our preference as a nutritious energizing drink. Both coffee and cacao are stimulants, but there are some important differences in how they work in our body. The main effect of coffee is from its caffeine, while the main stimulating compound in cacao is theobromine (cacao also contains small amounts of caffeine). The interactions with our bodies are complex and sensitivities depend per person.
Differences between caffeine and theobromine
Caffeine is an anti-sleep compound as it blocks adenosine receptors. It stimulates the central nervous system, increases dopamine and adrenaline. The positive effects of caffeine such as learning, mood, memory and performance are mostly attributed to the increased alertness. Although increased cognitive function it decreases the blood flow to our brain and is a vasoconstrictor, narrowing our blood vessels. Side effects such as jitteriness, anxiety, insomnia, and increased heart rate and blood pressure differ per person.
Theobromine is a heart stimulant and vasodilator. It increases your heart rate and at the same time widens your blood vessels, increasing the blood flow while not increasing (or even decreasing) blood pressure. It increases the blood flow and oxygenation of the brain, improves memory and cognitive performance. It is also suggested to play a protective role in aging. Theobromine is a milder stimulant compared to caffeine and has an interesting effect that it can also relax your muscles.
Much more than a stimulant
Next to theobromine, cacao is a rich superfood with minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese and potassium. It has one of the highest antioxidant levels and feel-good chemicals like anandamide and PEA. It also protects our cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) and has anti-aging properties.
If you want to limit your coffee intake, cacao is a great alternative as a healthy energizing drink. How often and when drinking coffee or cacao works best is easy to find out for yourself. The invitation is to listen to your body in what supports you best. Enjoy exploring delicious recipes.