In this article, Jameth Sheridan shares on superfoods including cacao and raw chocolate. Jameth Sheridan is the co-author of Uncooking with Jameth and Kim and the co-founder of the superfoods company HealthForce Nutritionals.
Kevin: Let's move into, there's a bunch of superfoods and a bunch of stuff I want to talk about. When we were in the car on the way over here, we started talking about chocolate.
Kevin: And cacao. And so, I want to kind of, I just want to get your scope on it. What's the deal, what's your experience with it?
Kevin: Maybe that can instruct some people.
Jameth: Sure. As far as for flavoring of things, chocolate has replaced carob over the years on the raw foods community. The whole idea is that raw, cacao is what raw chocolate is really called, and the whole idea is because it's raw, it's healthy. Just like I talked about earlier, there are two categories of food, raw and cooked. So chocolate, that has negative effects on people, that actually kills a lot of animals, all of a sudden because it's raw, now it's good for you. I wouldn't call it a half truth, it's maybe like a quarter truth or a fifth truth ..
If you have a regular chocolate bar, it's got pasteurized milk, it's got hydrogenated oil, it's got white sugar, it's got artificial flavorings. None of it is organic. It's got pesticide residues. It's absolute crap. I would consider that poisonous for the body. In addition, it's got caffeine and theobromine from the chocolate. And the chocolate's probably been heated up to a temperature that's not raw for sure.
You then can move into, let's say, a whole food vegan chocolate bar where you have organic cocoa butter, organic cacao, sweetened with some sort of organic, more whole food natural sugar and no flavorings whatsoever. That is much healthier than a regular chocolate bar.
When you move into a raw chocolate-type product, you've got cacao and cacao butter, almost always of which are organic. The sweetener, instead of let's say a refined sugar or a less refined sugar, in the vegan chocolate bar, is now something like agave nectar, or yacon, or lucuma, which are whole food sweeteners. Vastly healthier. And, if there's vanilla in it, it's actually vanilla bean. If there's coconut in there, it's not coconut flavoring or coconut flakes, it's actual coconut. So, the raw chocolate bar is much more whole foods. It's much more blood sugar balanced. Everything in there is, for the most part, a healthy ingredient.
But, you still have a cacao in there. And, cacao still has, it's either caffeine or theobromine or both in there, they're almost exactly the same chemicals. And, caffeine is not good for you. Whether it's in the form of yerba matte or cacao. Caffeine artificially increases your heart rate. It can give you heart palpitations, it artificially increases your respiration. If you take enough of it, you actually can die. You can induce death if you take enough of it because your heart won't be able to beat that fast. And, I've seen it mess a lot of people's health up. If you take cacao before bed, you cannot sleep, period, because it's going to keep you awake. It's similar, we also talked about it in the car, people take No-Doze, they take caffeine to keep themselves up, like a whole food version of that. I consider cacao a whole food medicinal, recreational drug. And I don't think any evidence suggests anything otherwise than that, it's just it has this cache it has this thing that because it's raw we can have it in any quantity and just pound it in and I've seen people really mess up their health and their lives by following that advice and I think it's actually reckless.
Kevin: And you had mentioned in terms of antioxidants, I mean it's good compared to some things.
Jameth: It's up there, it's one of the higher whole food type antioxidants. But when you compare it to lots of herbs like sage or oregano or rosemary or even if you start to get into herbal extracts or some fruit and vegetable extracts like resveratrol from grapes has about 40 times more antioxidants than cacao in it. Cacao is an OK antioxidant but if you are looking to take cacao to increase you antioxidant levels it's a bad way to do it because cacao increases your metabolism, in an artificial way, it makes your heart beat faster and creates, actually, adrenaline in your body. It actually uses up more antioxidants than it provides you.
I use cacao what I call ceremonially. If I'm going to work out and I'm tired anyway, and I figure you know, I'm not going to work today at all, I will take a little bit of cacao or other things sometimes or green tea or other things with caffeine to just kind of kick myself in the ass and actually go out and do an hour or two workout. But just a little bit. If it's already late at night and my wife and I want to stay up and watch a movie we'll have a little bit of cacao. But we use it very, very carefully because its unbalanced power can easily be upset.
Kevin: Yeah. Interesting. Let's talk about another staple in the raw food diet which is nama shoyu, even tamari, for those people who find raw tamari, let's talk about that.
Jameth: Sure. If I can start with that by talking about salt in general.
Kevin: Yeah, good.
Jameth: There's the idea that some people think you should be on a completely low sodium diet because so much research has shown that low sodium diets lower blood pressure, it lowers your risk for kidney disease, for heart disease and so forth. Now that research is based on regular white table salt which is heated anywhere from 300 to 1200 degrees. It has chemicals added to it, it has inorganic iodine added to it, and inorganic iodine is toxic and can kill you if you have enough of it. Regular table salt is absolutely abysmal for your health and that should never be. Because that is so bad some people have thrown the baby out with the bath-water and say all salt is bad.
When you have no salt in your diet, or for example let's talk about when you water fast, you have large amounts of water, no salt in the water and you would thing you would be extremely hydrated but when you water fast you're actually slightly dehydrated. Because when you have too much salt from any source you hold too much water in your body, there's too much water held in solution in your body you become puffy and retain fluids. If you have too little salt, salt is what allows you to hold on to fluids, you can't hold on to enough fluids and no matter how much water you drink, in fact the more water you drink when you don't have enough salt, the more dehydrated you become and the more work your kidneys have to do to maintain the salt you have in your system. So salt balance is essential.
Now you would think that on a natural diet you should be able to get enough salt from salty vegetables like celery or tomatoes and in some cases I think that's accurate. But for anyone sweating or doing anything athletic or people who genetically have low blood pressure or most people in my experience need to have additional sources of organic sodium. If you look to animals in nature whenever there is a salt-lick around the animals flock to it and start consuming that salt- lick. Even animals in nature, you even find predator and prey near each other at salt-licks licking the salt because the prey is so drawn to that salt that they'll risk getting eaten by a predator just so they can have that salt. There's something very valuable about it.
The best form of salt in my opinion by far in any community is miso, because miso used to be considered cooked which was completely wrong because miso starts out cooked but it's aged for two years. Usually it's in wooden casks like they used to do in the old days and its treated with probiotics and enzymes and by the time miso comes out every square molecule of that miso has undergone enzymatic and probiotic action and miso actually has a huge life force field around it. It's anti-cancer, it's anti-radiation, it's a tremendous antioxidant, it's a tremendous healing food and only a small part of it is salt. To me it's the number one, I actually consider miso a superfood. A hardcore superfood up there with any other superfood and it compares statistically and with research. It's a live, living salt.
The next salt, the next things you would go to I think would be a shoyu type or tamari soy sauce. Years ago there was a mistake in the raw food community that someone thought or was led to believe that nama shoyu was raw soy sauce and tamari was not. People said tamari is poisonous crap, it's cooked, and nama shoyu is the way to go. And let me tell you the truth on that, I've done a lot of research on this. Tamari is the world's original soy sauce, made in Japan, back to recorded records. Miso was made, and the liquid that floated to the top of the miso was tamari, that was what was tamari. It was aged. It was fermented in a good way with bacteria and enzymes and no wheat was ever added to this there was no such thing as wheat in Asia. And today tamari is made on its own and fermented on its own.
Nama shoyu is a very recent, thousands and thousands of years there was tamari and the ingredients are soy beans, water and salt, enzymes and probiotics that treat this. Nama shoyu is made differently whereas today they add westernized wheat to nama shoyu. The wheat actually when it ferments forms a large amount of alcohol. So it has a less full bodied flavor than tamari and it has a larger alcohol content which isn't necessarily a problem but there's less flavor to it and since it has wheat in it people with wheat allergies and people with gluten intolerance which is a big percentage of the population cannot consume it. And tamari, unless someone actually went out of the way to pasteurize, it is not cooked. Tamari is raw, so is nama shoyu. They're equally as raw, but tamari is made the traditional healthy way, has a stronger better flavor than nama shoyu and is completely gluten free.
Nama shoyu has destroyed, I mean absolutely reeked havoc, destroyed raw food cuisine for anyone who is wheat sensitive or anyone who has celiac disease which means they can't have any gluten whatsoever. It's just eliminated that for them and it's less healthy for them than tamari. There's no reason you need to be having wheat in your tamari, in your soy sauce. So to me, tamari, excuse me nama shoyu's time has come due to an error, someone thinking it was raw and tamari was not and it's now time for it to go. It has no place in the raw food community, I don't think whatsoever, because we have superior alternatives and that would be gluten-free tamari.