A customer recently asked me:
“If I were stuck on a desert island and only allowed to bring one food or herb with me, which one would it be and why”?
Before I answer the question, I would like to use this as a chance to teach you something very valuable. In my book The Mind and Body Restorative Program, I have a chapter on simplifying and decluttering your life.
When I was asked this question, it made me think about the value of the concept “less is more”.
I am sure if you go into your kitchen cabinets, you will find bags and bottles of herbs, superfoods, and supplements that you purchased with “good intentions” of using but just never followed through. I use a copious amount of herbs on a daily basis. You will never find old, partially used or un-open bags in my home.
While I love to experiment, in the end, I always use everything I buy. I know what is valuable to me so I only buy what I know I will use. If you have a strong value system in place, there will never be unnecessary clutter in your life.
Being stranded on a desert island you need to be focused, well nourished and able to think on your feet to expect the unexpected.
Therefore, my food of choice is Cacao.
Before I get into the nourishing value of why I picked this food, I will give you 3 “off-the-cuff” reasons for my choice.
First, if you take a look at the history of cacao, it was used as a form of currency and because you never know who you will be rescued by, it is always polite to give them a generous tip. I can’t think of a better way, then with cacao.
Second, mixed with coconut water it makes for a great toothpaste due to its high mineral content. Tulane University showed it was more effective than fluoride for building strong teeth.(7) Just because you are stuck on a desert island is no reason to neglect your teeth.
Finally, perhaps you are stuck on the island with your significant other and during your time there, it happens to be Valentine's day. Stranded or not, if you don’t have that something special for your special someone, you are going to wish, that you were stuck on another island by yourself. There is no better way to show love than to give your loved one cacao.
To me, cacao is the greatest food on earth.
In my opinion, cacao smokes every superfood and super berry out there. When compared to a variety of red wine and tea’s for its antioxidant value, cacao won by much more than a nose.(1)
Cacao is a most protective food:
Cacao may nourish many aspects of a healthy heart. And the research is quickly piling up.
- According to a recent Japanese study, the polyphenolic compounds (a class of antioxidants) found in cacao shows great promise in possibly suppressing inflammation levels in the cardiovascular system (2).
- Another study showed that consumption of cacao flavanols had a positive impact on cardiometabolic function -- affecting the heart and metabolic conditions like diabetes (3).
The ultimate feel-good brain-food:
Cacao is a food traditionally used in ceremonies and celebrations due to its psychoactive effects and ability to make people very happy. It is a food traditionally used for those who want to take their ability to think, too a higher level.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Reading showed the positive effects of cacao on the pressure of blood flow to the brain (4), while Italian researchers recently showed how cacao may trigger neuroprotective effects (5). Even more, research showed that cacao has a positive impact on mood and cognitive enhancement (6).
A most versatile food:
I can’t think of a single food which you could not mix with cacao to make the food or dish taste better and bring its nutritional value up several notches. Whether it is sauces, drinks or baked goods adding cacao is a win/win. The best part of its versatility is that it never goes bad.
Cacao, if prepared correctly, is a fermented food so it has a long and stable shelf life - perfect if you are stranded on a desert island.
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher, and an accomplished author. With a 16-year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge of tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 25-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal remedies.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.
ZNF Mind and Body Restorative Program (Instant Download)
If you are new to the world of herbal remedies or want to sharpen your skills, Mike is the author of the ZNF Mind and Body Restorative Program. This 78-page, easy-to-read eBook is $9.99 (Immediate download). For more information visit the Z Natural Foods store, or click here to see a list of the important topics.
- Lee KW1, Kim YJ, Lee HJ, Lee CY. 2003 “Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine.” Pubmed.gov. Accessed January 31,
- Zempo H, Suzuki J, Watanabe R, Wakayama K, Kumagai H, Ikeda Y, Akazawa H, Komuro I, Isobe M. 2016. “Cacao polyphenols ameliorate autoimmune myocarditis in mice.” Pubmed.gov Accessed January 31,
- Davison K, Howe PR. 2015. “Potential implications for dose and diet for the effects of cocoa flavanols on cardiometabolic function.” Pubmed.gov Accessed January 31,
- Lamport DJ, Pal D, Moutsiana C, Field DT, Williams CM, Spencer JP, Butler LT. 2015. “The effects of
flavanol richcocoa on cerebral perfusion in healthy older adults in consciousresting state.” Pubmed.gov Accessed January 31, 2018https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26047963
- Cimini A1, Gentile R, D'Angelo B, Benedetti E, Cristiano L, Avantaggiati ML, Giordano A, Ferri C, Desideri G. 2013. “Cocoa powder triggers neuroprotective and preventive effects in a human Alzheimer's disease model by modulating BDNF signaling pathway.” Pubmed.gov Accessed January 31,
- Scholey A, Owen L. 2013. “Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: A systematic review.” Pubmed.gov. Accessed Jan 31,