Cocoa V Cacao
Until recently, you have probably never even heard of cacao. Growing up, mum would use cocoa in all her cooking – chocolate brownies and muffins, slices and rum balls all heavily featured cocoa powder.
Now, cacao is considered a healthier alternative. But do you really know the difference? And no, the answer isn’t just a few vowels!
Both cacao powder and cocoa powder both come from the same source – the cacao bean – but there is a big difference when it comes to nutrition.
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate – it’s basically the raw, unprocessed form.
The cacao fruit tree produces pods, which are cracked open to release beans. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing the uncooked cacao beans, meaning they are unprocessed and additive free. Cacao therefore contains more antioxidants and retains its nutritional benefits of fibre, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, calcium and essential fatty acids.
There are many health benefits of cacao, including lowering insulin resistance and blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, protecting your nervous system and boosting your mood!
Other products made from the cacao fruit tree include cacao butter (made from the white, fatty lining of the bean) and cacao nibs (beans that have been chopped into edible pieces).
Cocoa powder may look the same, but there’s a very big difference – heat treatment. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures, destroying its nutritional benefits and changing its molecular structure.
Interestingly, it’s not currently known whether heating raw cacao destroys some of its health benefits. However, starting with the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate is always going to be better for you.
Here is a recipe from our friend Collette at Cut Out The Crap that uses cacao to make a delicious and healthy treat!
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