When did we stop putting cocoa in our hot chocolates and start using cacao instead? Apart from shuffling around the letters ‘o’ and ‘a’…what’s the real difference between cacao and cocoa?
Cacao is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. It’s one of the highest sources of antioxidants and is also rich in magnesium.
Cocoa looks like cacao but it’s made by roasting raw cacao at high temperatures, which changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean – reducing its nutritional value.
The health benefits of cacao:
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Aids immunity
- Boosts the nervous system
- Lowers insulin resistance
- Fights toxins in the body
- Makes you feel good by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well-being.
Pods, beans, nibs
Cacao comes from pods on a tree known as Theobroma Cacao. Inside the pods are cacao beans. The lining of a cacao bean is made up of cacao butter – a white fatty substance that is removed from the bean during the process of making cacao powder.
If you are seeking a choc chip healthy alternative, buy yourself some cacao nibs, which are cacao beans chopped into little pieces. They taste just as rich as chocolate but they don’t have all the nasty sugar and they do have fiber, good fats, and nutrients.
The hip pocket
One of the biggest differences between cacao and cocoa is the price. You are likely to pay double the price for cacao in the supermarket. There are some wholefood stores that sell cacao powder in bulk, which can be a cheaper alternative.
The good news is that there are still some health benefits to eating cocoa…you just need to make sure you buy it in the purest form possible. Many cocoa drinking products that are sold in supermarkets contain added ingredients…like sugar…so always check the label.
If you’re wondering what on earth to do with cacao…we can help! Check out the recipe section in That Sugar Book where you’ll find Peanut Butter (with cacao) Cups & Blueberry Cacao Clusters. You can also access recipes on our website like Cacao Biscuits and the Fruit and Nut Choc Slab.