Does Raw Cacao Cause Permanent Damage to the Liver?

Keeping your liver working as it should is critical for good health. There is some controversy regarding the consumption of raw cacao and its effect on your liver, but there is no scientific proof available to suggest that cacao is toxic for the liver or can cause permanent damage to the organ. Consult your healthcare provider about the pros and cons of raw cacao if you have questions about its relationship to liver health.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

About Your Liver

Your liver resides in your abdominal cavity, on top of your right kidney, stomach and intestines, and below your diaphragm. You liver holds 13 percent of your blood supply at all times, including blood that comes from your stomach. It is tasked with regulating the levels of chemicals in it. This organ excretes bile to carry away the waste products from your blood. When processing your blood, the liver separates out nutrients your body needs.

About Raw Cacao

Raw cacao seeds, or cocoa seeds, are the seed from a South American evergreen tree known as the Theobroma cacao. These seeds are often roasted for use in making chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Proponents of consuming raw cacao seeds say this food provides a wealth of antioxidants, molecules that protect your cells from degradation that can trigger disease. Raw cacao also provides iron, fiber and magnesium.

Raw Cacao and Your Liver

Some people believe eating raw cacao is toxic to your liver because the seed is allegedly high in vitamin C, but there is no clinical evidence to confirm this. In fact, the opposite may be true -- a study published in the October 2009 issue of "Food and Chemical Toxicology" indicates that rats fed cacao demonstrated improvement in liver injuries 2. More research is needed to determine if this finding correlates to humans, however.

Keeping Your Liver Healthy

Regardless of whether you include raw cacao in your diet, there are a variety of ways to keep your liver healthy 3. First among them is to drink alcohol in moderation, since it can damage your liver. Losing weight is also good for your liver because a fatty liver can trigger liver failure and cancer. Avoid undercooked shellfish, such as oysters or mussels, since these foods may contain the hepatitis A virus, which can severely affect your liver.