Cacao, not cocoa.
Cocoa, not cacao.
Yes, it may sound like to you, but both are different and unique when it comes to nutrition, taste, and cost. So, probably you’re now uncertain and thinking which of these two should you buy to make your dessert! No worries, you can check out these differences in this post and decide which one you want. After reading this post, you can make a well-informed, choco-licious decision for life!
First, What It Is The Cacao Powder?
It is the dried fatty seeds of a South American evergreen tree, which are partially fermented. In very scientific terms, it is the Theobroma cacao of the family Sterculiaceae. Of course, they are used in making cocoa butter, cocoa, and chocolate. Also, they are called cocoa bean or cacao bean.
Theobroma cacao also called the cacao tree. The cocoa tree is a small evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae (which is native to the tropical regions of South and Central America) (1). The cocoa beans, are considered to be the seeds and they are used to produce cocoa powder, cocoa mass, ganache, confectionery, and chocolate.
Cacao is cultivated on a vast area; about 17,000,000 acres worldwide (that’s a lot of chocolate growing everywhere!).
While cocoa and cacao obviously start from the same origin, the way they end up, what they go through along the way and the processing have distinguished effects on their nutrition health benefits.
Do you believe that you can eat cacao beans raw? Yes! However, they have a very bitter taste of chocolate. The taste also varies depending on the growing conditions of the cacao beans (sunlight, soil, etc.) and the cacao tree. Usually, the beans are fermented and dried before undergoing any processing to ensure good quality.
The processing steps are determining whether the beans become cocoa or cacao. They start from the same place, but the processing makes all the difference.
If you’re a chocolate lover, I bet you already know that cacao and cocoa are available in many forms in the market: powder, nibs, butter, chips, and chocolate bars (the list goes on, but I’m just naming a few of the most popular chocolate forms).
Cacao butter, from its name, is made from the cacao bean fattiest part. Like most butter, it is white and has a rich, fatty texture. It definitely tastes and looks like white chocolate, and you can use it while baking desserts or even as a moisturizer for dry skin (especially heals).
Cacao nibs are simply cacao beans chopped up into small delicious pieces. So, you can consider them to be like chocolate chips( only a little less sweet), without any artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
You still get all the benefits of cacao beans, like the antioxidant and nutrients power that your body really loves. You can munch on cacao nibs all by themselves without adding anything to them. I’d recommend adding the delicious nibs to a homemade Paleo trail mix, or use them with cookies or on ice cream just like you’d use chocolate chips.
Manufacturers get rid of the buttery, fatty parts during processing from the rest of the beans. After that, they remove what’s left and make a nice dark powder in the mill (that is the cacao powder). A lot of people like to use cacao powder for baking their favorites desserts at home and making some yummy sweet treats. You know the brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate sauce; you know it all!
My good morning drink would either be chocolate smoothies and some coffee with cacao powder! It’s just like a hug to my brain in the morning!
Cocoa Powder Is Extremely Popular In Dessert Recipes. There Are Actually Two Types Available:
Natural Cocoa Powder:
This type is a bit more acidic and sour than Dutch-processed powder (we’re going to talk about in a second). You’ll notice it frequently in recipes that ask for baking soda because the soda alkalizes the natural cocoa powder acidity to provide a yummy taste.
Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder:
This type, also known as dark cocoa, undergoes further processing with an alkalized chemical extract. This is made to make the taste of the chocolate produced richer and less acidic (as we just said that chocolate tends to have an acid taste to it). Regrettably, further processing increases the degradation of all those wonderful antioxidants and nutrients that your body can enjoy.
Raw (or minimally processed) cacao beans are super beneficial foods.
Here’s A Quick Rundown Of Some Of Cacao Powder Benefits:
- Antioxidant Effects:
Cacao beans are absolutely packed with flavonoids and phenolic phytochemicals that protect your cells against free radicals that can really damage your cells.
If your cells were subjected to oxidative damage, this can result in premature aging (the signs of aging will show early on your skin and organs) and you’ll be at higher risks to diseases.
- Boosts Your Mood And Cognitive Performance:
The main flavonoid in cacao is Epicatechin, which puts you in a better mood, preserves cognitive abilities as you age and improves various functions of cognition.
- Lowers Blood Pressure:
A study has recently found that flavones in cacao powder increase blood vessel flexibility and lower blood pressure. In other words, the cacao will lower the risks for heart and blood circulation diseases.
- Protects Your Heart:
Researchers found that procyanidins and flavones from cacao powder reduce platelet reactivity and increase antioxidant capacity and power in your blood plasma, leading to a healthier heart.
- Regulates Insulin Levels:
There is an important flavanol in cacao called Epicatechin (as we mentioned before its amazing benefits, it doesn’t stop there) which activates crucial proteins in your body and help regulate your body’s glucose production, especially amongst among diabetics.
Cacao beans are also rich in nutrients like potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper and zinc.
Actually, cacao powder is thought to be one of the richest foods in magnesium.
The transformation of cacao to cocoa happens when cacao is subjected to heavier processing and more heating at very high temperatures. Why are there cacao and cocoa powder?
Because the more heat the cacao powder is subjected to the more changes occur on a molecular level which eventually changes the structure and make it lose some of its nutritious benefits.
That indicates that cacao, which is less processed, has more potent antioxidant properties and health benefits. If you get 100 grams of raw cacao powder has a 95,500 oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). However, if you get 100 grams of cacao nibs the ORAC drops to 62,100. Also, 100 grams of cocoa powder has the least ORAC of 26,000.
Heating cacao or cocoa apparently diminishes some of the nutrients and reduces the potency of antioxidant effects. Nonetheless, cacao is a perfect choice.
Summary Of Cacao:
- Cacao is the refined form of chocolate you can eat or drink, which means it is organic and raw and much less processed than chocolate bars or cocoa powder. Cacao is considered the greatest source of antioxidants in any foods and the greatest source of magnesium as well.
- The cacao fruit tree, which is also known as Theobroma Cacao, provides cacao pods that are split open to deliver cacao beans. From there, cacao beans can be treated a few various ways.
- Cacao butter is the fattest part (has lots of fat content) of the fruit and makes up the external lining of the inside of an individual cacao bean. This butter is white in color and has a creamy, buttery texture that tastes like white chocolate and looks like it too.
- Cacao butter is extracted from the cacao bean while production and the left part of the fruit are used to produce natural cacao powder.
- Cacao nibs are basically cacao beans that have been slashed up into eatable pieces, much like chocolate chips without the additional fats and sugars. Cacao nibs include the greater part of the fat, fiber, and supplements that the cacao bean have.
- Cacao paste originates from cacao nibs that have been gradually warmed to protect the supplements and are dissolved in a bark. By doing this, it ensures that it is a less-processed type of dark chocolate bars.
- Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder with a greater amount of the supplements from the entire bean is yet in place. Cacao is a magnificent source of vitamins, natural carbohydrates, cholesterol-free saturated fats, minerals, monounsaturated fats, fiber, and natural carbohydrates.
I bet now you know lots of things about Cacao powder that you’ve never known before. You’ve also learned the amazing cacao powder benefits for your overall health. Except for how delicious it can be!
Who said eating chocolate was a really bad idea?
Share this choco-licious information with all your family and friends!