Many of us know the power of reaching for chocolate in times of emotional need. But did you know just how good pure, unprocessed cacao is for mental well-being? Cacao is packed full of nutrients, antioxidants and minerals to boost our immune systems, and help us feel more peace and calm. Scientific research has confirmed that regular consumption of cacao, or dark chocolate, can help to reduce weight, relieve stress and depression, lower blood pressure, balance blood sugar levels, reduce cravings and improve insulin uptake in the body. It also increases blood flow to the brain, creating more mental agility, awareness and focus.
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Ritual Cacao are holding a challenge that’s really easy to get behind – drinking cacao every day for 21 days, helping to decrease feelings of anxiety and worry – especially after a rather difficult year.
As part of the challenge, you’ll receive 21 Days of emails to support you, two cacao ceremonies (the first on Sunday 9th May 2021), a Q&A session, exclusive Facebook group, and a special discount on cacao following the challenge.
So what exactly is a cacao ceremony? It simply gives us the space and time for ourselves in a chaotic and stressful world. It is the perfect space to switch off the external noise and treat ourselves in a way in which many of us often don’t find the time to do.
One of the most important things to remember when drinking cacao for mental health benefits is that cacao powder doesn’t have the same nutritious content as the cacao liquor, which is the pure unprocessed paste. For maximum benefits, pure, organic, ceremonial grade cacao should be used for the challenge.
Ceremonial grade simply means that the cacao is 100% pure and of the highest quality. The cacao used by Ritual Cacao is grown and harvested by the Tsatsayaku and Ashaninka tribes – who are paid a fair price, and traded with in a way which supports the natural environment and the welfare of the tribes who produce it.
Tsatsayaku is made up of families from 13 different communities, and its mission is to produce and conserve ancestral cacao (Arriba Nacional / Fino de Aroma) that provides a fair price for its members. The cacao itself is grown in the traditional Kichwa farming method ‘Chakra’, which has a conscientious respect for the natural environment. The organic approach seeks to preserve biodiversity and natural resources.
Asháninka land is in the rainforests of the lower Amazon basin in Peru. The Asháninka are striving to keep their cultural and environmental heritage, despite pressure from the modernisation of the outside world. The forest they live in is under threat, particularly from illegal logging, and palm oil production.
Cacao is a vital crop for the Asháninka because it is best operated within a co-operative, which is perfect for the communal living of the tribe, provides protection of their land, they can promote organic and traditional farming methods and is a cash crop so that they can maintain their economic independence and sovereignty.
So, what are your options for joining the challenge? There are many, for all preferences and budgets. You can simply sign up to receive the emails, completely free. Signing up with attendance to the ceremonies starts at £45, up to £70.
I’m really excited to be taking part in this challenge, especially as I’ve never attended a cacao ceremony before. I will be posting my experiences on social media, so please follow me to keep up to date with the journey. I’d love if you’d be a part of it with me – so why not sign up – it starts very soon!
Thanks for reading. Have a peaceful weekend.
Ritual Cacao have gifted me this experience for review purposes. All opinions are my own.