I can’t believe I’ve only just tried cacao! The superfood sister of cocoa, raw cacao contains many more antioxidants, and has a stronger aroma and taste than cocoa. But what makes them different?
In the picture, you’ll be able to see the three sorts of cacao bean products I have in my kitchen cupboard: cocoa powder, organic cacao powder* from Rise Organics, and cacao nibs. They sort of show the scale of refinement; cacao nibs are made by crushing raw cocoa beans, cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans, and cocoa is made by roasting and processing cocoa beans. As with most foods, the less refined, raw versions are usually much better for us, with living enzymes still being present in the food.
There are many other benefits to switching to cacao: while more expensive per gram, it has a stronger, possibly even less bitter taste than cocoa. I love swapping cocoa for cacao in my chocolate and peanut butter smoothies, making it a slightly fruitier, sweeter taste, with less powder needed (I’d say 3/4 of the normal amount quoted for cocoa is enough!).
Cocoa also provides a low dose of caffeine (roughly 60mg in a cup of hot chocolate, which is less than the 90-150mg in a cup of coffee), making it a perfect addition to breakfast smoothie bowls, plus it has been proven to brighten your mood, and its antioxidant content boosts your health in all sorts of ways. On saying that, I should really explain – healthy food is a multi-pronged illness prevention and aid in staying healthy, so it can never really be pigeonholed to doing just one thing! Antioxidants are a great example of this, from staving off cancer, to preventing premature skin ageing.
Overall – I’m not going to give cocoa a second glance, unless I ever want to cook with it. Cacao is a much better swap for all its raw applications, and I prefer the taste too!