Cacao butter and chocolate are both derived from the cacao tree. The tree produces beans that can be processed in different ways to make chocolate liquor, cacao solids, cacao butter, and chocolate. Cacao butter is added to white, milk, and dark chocolate; it’s what creates that luscious melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes chocolate so luxurious.
It Has a Divine History
Cacao has been given several nicknames throughout its lifetime that allude to its power as a sacred plant. Today, it is commonly known as Theobroma, meaning “food of the gods.” 700 years ago, the Aztecs called it cacahuatl, (this is where we get the word ‘chocolate’ from) meaning “black nut” or “gods’ food.” They used the cacao plant in sacred rites. It was so intertwined with their belief system that they used the same word, cacahuatl, to refer to the still-beating human hearts they offered as sacrifice to their gods.
The Maya, too, believed in the divine origins of cacao. They held a yearly festival to honor Ek Chuah, the cacao god. They saw the cacao tree as a sacred bridge between Heaven and Earth, representing the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
It’s a Healthy Fat
Cacao butter is a great source of healthy fat—and it’s vegan! It’s chock-full of fatty acids, including the two main fats that are essential to maintaining human health: alpha-linoleic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6). Omega-3 and omega-6 are important in regulating blood pressure and inflammatory response. However, these essential fatty acids can’t be produced by the human body, so we need to get them from our diet. Cacao butter can be a great replacement for coconut oil or regular butter in your favorite recipes.
It’s Good for Your Body (Inside and Out)
Not only is cacao butter a healthy source of dietary fat, its benefits extend to your skin and hair too. Because of its high fat content, cacao butter is an emollient, meaning it creates a protective barrier that keeps moisture in and protects from dryness and flakiness. It can soothe sensitive skin and keep hair smooth and shiny. In addition, cacao butter contains phytochemicals and antioxidants, which may slow skin aging by fighting free radicals, improving blood flow to the skin, and protecting against harmful UV rays.
It’s Good for Your Mind
Did you know that the mood-boosting effects can extend to cacao butter too? This is because their source, cacao, contains a compound called phenethylamine (PEA), which amplifies the actions of feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. When serotonin and dopamine are active, you might experience increased alertness, an enhanced sense of well-being, and improved cognitive performance. These are the same chemicals that are stimulated when you fall in love, so it’s no wonder we crave chocolate all the time.