Chocolate is delicious! There is simply NO arguing that fact. We just love it, don’t we. And with GOOD reason! Mmmm….
But, what you may not understand is the difference between Cacao and Cocoa, and why that difference should matter to you.
Perhaps, you have never even heard that there is any difference between the two. Maybe, you just thought that people were simply saying the same word two different ways.
Pantry Picks: A Very Important KEY
We want to help you get the absolute best products for your body into your pantry, because this is a HUGE key to being healthy and losing weight. So let’s unravel this mystery once and for all!
Both products, Cocoa and Cacao, start from the same tree: Theobroma cacao, which is a small evergreen tree that is native to South and Central America. The seeds, known as Cacao Beans, grow inside of pods, and are removed from these pods at harvest time.
Although most cacao AND cocoa is fermented, some companies do supply non-fermented cacao. The non-fermented variety has more bitterness, and has been shown in some studies to have a higher concentration of antioxidants than the more readily available fermented type.
(And just in case you might be wondering…Each pod contains approximately 40 seeds, and each tree produces about 100-300 pods per year. The yearly yield from one tree per year ranges from 9-22 pounds of beans.) And, isn’t that tree PRETTY!
So, What’s The Difference?
It may surprise you to learn that when Cocoa is made, the cacao beans are roasted in very high heat, which removes many of the amazing health benefits of the bean. Cocoa is often sold as a “mix” which is alkalinized, contains additives (to help lower the manufacturer’s cost), anti-caking agents, and may even include added sweeteners such as corn syrup. But even in it’s most pure form, Cocoa does not give you the benefits that cacao provides, and here’s why…..
Cacao is the more natural, non-alkalinized product without additives or added sweeteners. Raw Cacao Powder is created by cold pressing cacao beans at a low temperature, as opposed to the high heat process used to make cocoa powder. Because of the much lower heat used to process Cacao, the health benefits from the bean remain….and those health benefits are many!
It’s A Superfood?
You may have heard that Cacao is known as one of the world’s Superfoods, and it’s true! That little bean is GREAT for you. It is one of the best plant-based sources of iron and magnesium. Cacao is very high in antioxidants, and has been found to help lower blood pressure, regulate insulin levels, and to boost feelings of pleasure and overall well-being. That means it’s a bit of an antidepressant….it just makes you feel better!
And, if your anything like me, you know what else makes you feel fantastic? Why, a healthy, quick, and simple dessert, of course. YUM! The kind of dessert that you can feel good about, because you control the amounts and kinds of sweeteners and other additives that go into it. And, Raw Organic Cacao just happens to be one of my favorite dessert ingredients!
Even after choosing the healthier and nutrient loaded Cacao, know that if you bake it in a high heat oven, many of the nutrients may be lost in the heating process.
That’s why I LOVE using cacao powder in raw dessert recipes. It’s delicious AND bring the great health right along with it!
Cacao is not only available in powdered form, but also as nibs (which are a bit crunchy & not sweet), and as cacao butter.
Cacao Nibs are a nice crunchy snack for stocking your pantry. They have no sugar added, and we love them sprinkled into our trail mixes and added to homemade granola. Topping sliced bananas with a bit of nut butter and a sprinkle of cacao nibs also makes a nice treat. The nibs make a good addition to banana nice cream, overnight oatmeal, or to fruit salad as well.
If you choose to buy pre-prepared chocolate, keep in mind that much of it is very high in sugar, especially milk chocolate. Even many dark chocolate bars still contain milk solids, unhealthy sweeteners, and other things that you don’t want to put into your body if your goal is to be healthy and lose weight. For pre-mixed chocolate, chose cacao content of 70% or higher (a darker chocolate), which will most likely contain less sugar than the varieties with less cacao. The darker chocolates are more bitter, and that’s due to their higher polyphenol content, which is responsible for many of the health benefits of Cacao. Always keep your eye on the ingredients list, and remember, the less ingredients the better. And as always we recommend choosing organic.
This concludes The Great Cacao Mystery.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on Carob, another Oh So Delicious Chocolatey Treat that you may be missing out on, because we definitely DON’T want you to miss out! Looking forward to chatting more with you soon!
Oh, and be sure to be on the lookout for more delicious chocolate recipes on our blog, and don’t forget to check our No Bake Chocolate Mousse