So what is the difference between cacao & cocoa powder? Is there even any difference or are they the same thing spelt two different ways? I get this question a lot so I thought I would quickly explain the key differences and some of the great health benefits of both cacao & cocoa.
Well both cacao & cocoa come from the same bean from the same tree. But they are made very differently. Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing the raw beans. Cocoa however looks pretty much the same as cacao but to make cocoa the beans are roasted at high temperatures. This unfortunately does change the molecular structure of the bean and so decreases the nutritional value. Also many brands of cocoa in the store may have other ingredients such as sweeteners added to them so check out the nutritional label if you are buying cocoa so you know exactly whats been added to it.
Raw cacao is getting lots of attention at the moment for its super food properties. It’s definitely one of my favorite ingredients (who doesn’t love chocolate) for making homemade energy bars & protein shakes. So what are some of the health benefits that make it so special?
- It has been shown to reduce blood pressure & insulin resistance
- It is super high in anti-oxidants which help you protect your nervous & cardiovascular systems. Raw cacao actually has more antioxidants per 100g than acai berries, goji berries & blueberries.
- It can help to boost your mood. Yep chocolate really does make you happy. Cacao increases levels of certain neurotransmitters that promote a sense of wellbeing. It also contains the same brain chemical that released when we experience feelings of love.
- If that wasn’t enough it’s also super rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper & manganese.
Jeanne Calment who lived to the age of 122 year in good health attributes her longevity to a diet rich in olive oil, port wine & chocolate. She would eat a kilogram of chocolate every week. Great news for chocolate lovers!
You can also make your own homemade chocolate bars. Simply mix 4 teaspoons of coconut oil, 6 teaspoons of raw cacao and 2 teaspoons of agave nectar or honey in a saucepan together and heat to melt. Once melted you can also mix whatever you like in your chocolate. Nuts work really well as do berries, dried fruit & coconut. Then pour into a mold and put into the fridge (or the freezer if your impatient like me) and wait till its set.
Let me know in the comments below, whats your favorite way to use cacao, and if you would like more cacao recipes, let me know.
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