Cacao beans are seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, a small evergreen tree grown in Mexico and South America.Cacao is a top source of antioxidants, and it contains an abundance of magnesium and iron.
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Cacao (Theobroma) belongs to the genus Theobroma classified under the subfamily Sterculioidea of the mallow family Malvaceae. Cacao is one of 22 species of Theobroma.
The generic name is derived from the Greek for “food of the gods“; from θεος (theos), meaning “god,” and βρῶμα (broma), meaning “food”.
The Maya believed the kakaw was discovered by the gods in a mountain that also contained other delectable foods to be used by them. According to Maya mythology, the Plumed Serpent gave cacao to the Maya after humans were created from maize by divine grandmother goddess Xmucane.
In general, cocoa is considered to be a rich source of antioxidants such as procyanidins and flavanoids, which may impart anti-aging properties. Cocoa also contain a high level offlavonoids, specifically epicatechin, which may have beneficial cardiovascular effects on health.