We've all heard foodies and health practitioners alike boast about the amazing health benefits of chocolate, but when choosing chocolate, our choices these days are plentiful and it's important to understand that not all chocolate is created equal. So, in this week's edition of What's That?! Wednesday we thought we'd clear up the confusion about the difference between cacao and cocoa, besides the mixed up vowels, so that you can make more informed choices.
Cacao is raw chocolate; a nut/seed that comes from the fruit of an Amazonian tree and is THE HIGHEST ANTIOXIDANT FOOD on the planet - higher than even goji berries, acai berries, or blueberries. The cacao nut/seed is found inside the fruit of the tree in oval shaped pods that are harvested, fermented, and then dried. Raw cacao powder is made when they cold press unroasted/unheated cacao nuts/seeds. Therefore raw cacao powder or cacao nibs are uncooked, additive free, and unprocessed so they maintain the living enzymes but remove the fat/cacao butter.
Cocoa powder looks the same, but it is only considered cocoa only after is has been roasted at high temperatures which can damage some of the molecular structure of the cacao nut/seed, reducing its enzyme content and lowering the overall antioxidant capabilities. In fact, antioxidant content can be measured in ORAC (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) and while raw cacao has a 95,500 ORAC value, cocoa powder has only a 26,000 ORAC value. This means you get three times more antioxidant content when you eat raw cacao vs. cocoa.
The antioxidant power of cacao is widespread, but here are few key health benefits:
So next time you choose your chocolate, choose it wisely - look for cacao rich dark chocolate bars instead of milk chocolate - preferably 65-70% cacao content or higher. Or buy raw cacao powder or raw cacao nibs to use in your baked good items- try our Easy No Bake Granola Bars for a great, antioxidant rich snack.
Or try our "Kick Your Cravings" Chocolate Shake to help curb your cravings while enjoying a cold, creamy snack that tastes like a dessert!
FYI - We find that you can usually get a better deal for superfoods like cacao powder or cacao nibs online than in the grocery stores. We personally like this company: Navitas Naturals. You can order many of these items on Amazon or other online markets like Thrive Market as well.
~Billie & Jennifer
Billie Shellist, FDN-P
I practice functional nutrition, an approach that allows me to look at your entire health history and help you find the "root causes" of your chronic health complaints.
This cuts out the trial and error process and helps you get real symptom relief and resolution!
Food is medicine and knowledge is power -I hope you enjoy my anti-inflammatory recipes which are gluten, dairy, and soy free as well as very low grain and sugar.
If you'd like to heal from the root cause(s) of your chronic symptoms, try starting with a complimentary 15-minute consultation. Click here to request your free session.