Can you eat Cocoa Fruit and Beans Raw? Yes, But How Much?

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding raw cacao is if it’s safe to eat. Though raw cacao fruit, pulp, outer shell, and beans are safe to eat, the answer isn’t so simple. 

Don’t fret! 

We’ll explain everything you need about its consumption and safety. 

So, are you ready for this reading journey? Let’s get into it!

What’s in Raw Cacao Beans and How Can they affect you?

Before getting into whether you should eat raw cocoa beans and fruits, it’s essential to know what hazardous chemicals and compounds (when taken in large quantities) are found in raw cocoa beans and fruits. Likewise, it’s also worth knowing in what quantity they’re health-safe. So, let’s get into the details.

1. Caffeine and Theobromine

Raw cocoa beans contain caffeine and theobromine, two stimulant compounds that can increase alertness and improve mood.

Generally speaking, the caffeine content of a single cocoa bean is relatively low compared to other sources of caffeine, such as coffee or tea.

On average, a single cocoa bean contains approximately 0.1-0.5 milligrams of caffeine. Hence, for the caffeine content, raw chocolate beans or fruit are safe to consume.

Similarly, fresh cocoa beans have the highest amount of theobromine, with 1% on average. The recommended daily intake of theobromine has not been established. But studies have suggested that consuming up to 1000 milligrams of theobromine daily is unlikely to cause adverse effects in healthy adults. 

What can happen if you take too much theobromine?

You can experience theobromine toxicity symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors, seizures, and in severe cases, cardiac arrest.

So, if you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine or theobromine, you may need to limit the intake to a lower amount.

2. Anandamide 

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is naturally produced by the body and can also be found in small amounts in raw cacao beans. It’s responsible for the “blissful” feeling that some people experience after consuming chocolate.

Yet, there is no established safe level of anandamide consumption, as its effects on the body are not fully understood, and research on its safety is limited.

It’s also worth noting that anandamide is rapidly broken down by enzymes in the body to prevent excessive levels of the neurotransmitter from building up. In addition, the amount of anandamide found in cocoa products is relatively small. So, consuming moderate amounts of cocoa products won’t lead to significant changes in anandamide levels in the body.

3. Phenylethylamine (PEA)

Phenylethylamine is a neurotransmitter that is naturally produced by the body and can also be found in small amounts in raw cocoa beans. 

It’s sometimes referred to as the “love drug” because it’s responsible for the feeling of euphoria that some people experience when they fall in love. However, the amount of phenylethylamine in raw cocoa beans is relatively small, and its effects on the body are not fully understood.

What’s in Raw Cacao Bean at First Place?

Before getting into whether you should eat raw cocoa beans and fruits, it’s important to know what hazardous chemicals and compounds (when taken in large quantities) are found in raw cocoa beans and fruits. Likewise, it’s also worth knowing in what quantity they’re health-safe.

Can People Eat the Fruit around the Cacao Beans?

Yes, besides chemical components, cacao fruit consists of a shell, pulp, and beans. All these components are edible and health safe when eaten moderately. 

Yet, here’s where it gets tricky. 

  • You see, raw cacao fruit from trees contains harmful bacteria and toxins. If ingested, it can lead to various health problems. On the other hand, fermented but raw cocoa beans have XXX times more microorganisms and pathogens, as stated by Romel E. Guzmán-Alvarez and José G. Márquez-Ramos in Fermentation of Cocoa Beans. So, they’re more harmful.
  • Cacao beans contain significant levels of theobromine and caffeine. Both these substances have stimulating effects on the body. Therefore, they should be consumed in moderation.
  • Raw cocoa can also contain small amounts of cadmium, a heavy metal that can be harmful if consumed in high quantities over a long period. To minimize the risk of cadmium exposure, it is best to consume raw cocoa in moderation and to choose high-quality, organic products that are lower in cadmium.
  • Lastly, cocoa beans, on the other hand, are not typically eaten raw. This is due to their bitter taste. It also has a tough outer shell that needs to be removed. If you choose to eat raw cocoa beans, we suggest you do so sparingly. 

How much Raw cacao can you Eat in a Day? 

We know we said you could eat raw cacao fruit and beans, but the distinct bitter taste may differ from everyone’s liking. That being said, some people enjoy eating raw cacao beans. But how much can you eat? 

To be on the safe side, you can consume 5-10 beans per day. Consuming large amounts of raw cacao beans can cause symptoms similar to caffeine overdose. Some symptoms include restlessness, increased heart rate, and muscle twitching. You should also not eat them if you’re allergic to some compound found in cacao beans or suffering from high blood pressure.

So, it’s best not to overindulge. Just a couple of pieces of raw cacao can give you the energy boost you need. 

How should you eat raw cacao?

Have you ever wanted to try eating raw cacao but didn’t know how? We got you covered!

Well, to eat the cacao fruit, all you have to do is pop one of the pulp-covered beans in your mouth. You can suck the sweet flesh off the bean. The pulp of a cacao fruit has a delectable, fruity taste. Experts describe this taste as sweet, tart, and complex, with hints of citrus, mango, and pineapple.

If you want to experience the pure taste of chocolate, you can bite right into the bean. However, we should warn you that eating raw cacao beans can cause stomach distress. 

It’s so because cacao beans contain oxalic acid and tannins, which can upset the stomach and cause gastrointestinal issues. They also contain caffeine, which can further cause gastrointestinal discomfort. 

What are the Few Benefits of Eating Cacao Fruit and Beans Raw?

Here’s a list of a few pros of consuming raw cacao:

  • It’s high in theobromine. It acts as a stimulant to combat low energy and fatigue. 
  • Raw cacao beans have various antioxidants.
  • Raw cacao fruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It can aid digestion.
  • They’re a natural source of potassium and magnesium.
  • They might help regulate the nervous system and promote good blood circulation.
  • Cacao beans can decrease the likelihood of kidney stones, strokes, and osteoporosis. 
  • They’re an excellent source of B vitamins, which help ensure proper body function. 
  • They can improve cognitive function, including memory, focus, and mental clarity.

What are a Few Drawbacks of Cacao or Raw Cocoa Beans?

Now that you know all the benefits of raw cacao, it’s only fair to warn you of some of its disadvantages. Here are some cons:

  • They can cause gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Consuming large amounts of raw cacao can also lead to caffeine-related side effects. 
  • They can cause nervousness, insomnia, increased urination, and increased heartbeat. 
  • They can cause allergic skin reactions and also trigger migraine headaches. 
  • They can cause constipation and stomach discomfort in some people. 
  • Being high in calories and fat, consuming cacao beans can lead to weight gain and other health issues. 
  • They contain oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stone formation. 

FAQs

Can pregnant women eat raw cacao fruit and beans?

Yes, pregnant women can eat raw cacao. It’s shown to have a positive impact on the health of both the mother and the baby during pregnancy. It also has a beneficial effect on the growth and development of the placenta and fetus. However, we should warn you that raw cacao has a higher level of caffeine which can affect the growing baby if consumed in a greater amount. 

Doctors recommend pregnant women limit their caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day. Raw cocoa has about 12-20mg of caffeine per ounce. So, pregnant women should avoid eating too much of it.

Can nursing women eat raw cacao?

Nursing women can eat cacao fruit and beans. However, they should be cautious about consuming raw cacao or any other raw food because of the risk of foodborne illness. Raw cacao can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria or parasites. 

The baby can consume this contamination. Therefore, it’s risky for infants. We recommend that nursing women avoid consuming raw cacao. Instead, they can opt for processed cocoa products. 

Is it safe for kids to eat cacao fruit and beans raw?

Yes, kids can eat it. But parents should know the fruit’s caffeine content. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Health Canada, children between the ages of 4 and 6 should consume no more than 45 mg of caffeine per day. Children between the ages of 7 and 9 should consume only 62.5 mg per day. 

Raw cocoa beans or fruit contain about 12-20 mg of caffeine per ounce. Thus, parents should limit their children’s consumption of raw cocoa. Additionally, parents should ensure that the raw cocoa is free of contaminants. Raw cocoa should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, raw cacao is safe to eat. We hope we were able to provide you with all the information you were looking for. Remember, cacao has been used as a fruit long before it was used to make chocolate. Don’t be scared to try it out!

So, do you want to indulge in some raw cacao? Well, make sure to do so in moderation. Enjoy its bitter-sweet and fruity taste!


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