In a world that is becoming increasingly health conscious, many healthy trade offs are being made. Even when it comes to chocolate. It is no secret that chocolate and its variations have some pretty rewarding health benefits, but what is better? In this article we take a look at the cacao versus cocoa debate and give you the facts.
Interesting Facts About Cacao
1. The Cacao Tree
To understand cacao you first need to understand where it comes from. Cacao is derived from fruits that grow on the cacao tree. These trees are located in the tropics near the equator. The area where majority of cacao is grown is known as the Cocoa Belt. The trees grow as tall as 40 feet and produce fruits more than a foot long. It takes a new tree nearly five years before producing it’s first fruit.
2. How It Is Made
Cacao is manufactured by winnowing, removing the shell, and grinding the beans into a powder. This powder, because it is unaltered or processed, retains all of its nutritional values.
3. Health Benefits
Because cacao is the unprocessed form of chocolate you are able to enjoy all the benefits it has to offer without all of the additional additives. The cacao bean is considered a super food because of the amount of antioxidants they contain. These beans also contain a great deal of protein, fiber, and heart healthy fats like oleic aid. Vitamins are also plentiful in raw cacao, providing you with plenty of b1, b2, b5, b9, and E vitamins. Raw chocolate can also lower blood pressure due to flavanols, a component of the cacao bean.
Important Things To Know About Cocoa
Ordinary cocoa powder, like the kind you probably grew up with, it is made from the cacao beans. The beans undergo a roasting and high heat processing before it becomes powder. Cocoa keeps a surprising amount of its antioxidants during this process however.
2. The Kind To Buy
There are numerous options when choosing a cocoa powder. If you are choosing one for it’s health benefits it is important to choose one that does not have sugar or other flavorings. Choosing Dutch-processed powder, which means dark, is the best option because it is the most pure form.
Cocoa powder does offer some pretty hefty health benefits. During the heat process the cocoa retains majority of its antioxidants. Even though the antioxidant level is still high, the heat process does change the molecular make up of the cocoa, which reduces enzyme content and lowers the overall value of cocoa powder as a nutrient.
Differences Between Cacao and Cocoa
The key difference between cacao and cocoa is that cacao is completely unprocessed, allowing it to retain all of its nutritional values. Cocoa powder on the other hand is subjected to high intensity heats, which alters the beans.
Cost is another large difference between the two. Cacao powder runs at nearly 20 dollars for 18 ounces. Plain cocoa powder will cost about 10 dollars for the same amount. This is due to additives and preserving measures that are taken in normal cocoa.
Cocoa is sweet and tastes very much “chocolate” like. This makes it a more desirable choice for most people, especially when being used in baking, smoothies, ect. Cacao is extremely bitter, and isn’t very reminiscent of the delicious chocolate that we are accustomed to.