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Cacao vs. Cocoa: Learn The Differences

We’re so thrilled that you have discovered our website, and are interested in learning more about cacao. Trust us, once you give it a try, you’ll never turn back! But first, let’s address one of the most common questions about cacao… “Is cacao and cocoa the same thing?”

If you buy chocolate, you’ve likely noticed that some packages say they contain cacao while others say cocoa. To many people, cocoa is a familiar ingredient, often used for baking, making hot chocolate, etc… While perhaps a little less known, cacao is beginning to gain recognition along with the popularity of eating whole and natural foods, as well as vegan diets and keto diets. With the similar spelling and origin, it is easy to get confused as to the difference between cocoa and cacao. However, there are important distinctions between the two.

Both cacao and cocoa come from the cacao bean of the Theobroma cacao tree. The primary difference between the two lies in how the cacao bean is processed after harvesting, and the alteration of the health benefits as a result of this processing. Cocoa is highly processed, roasted at a much higher temperature, and is often supplemented with additives that reduce bitterness. In contrast to this, cacao is a minimally processed form of the bean, and maintains the nutritionally dense properties of the cacao seed.

In their purest forms, cacao and unsweetened cocoa taste quite similar. However, there is a substantial difference in their health benefits. Cacao and cocoa may even look the same, however, there is a big difference. Cocoa powder is the ‘raw cacao’ that’s been roasted at high temperatures. The effect of roasting the cacao is the molecular structure of the cocoa bean changes, lowering the overall nutritional value and destroying the health benefits. Minimally processed cacao is an abundant source of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. Cacao also contains fiber and unique antioxidants called flavanols, which support brain and cardiovascular health. After cacao has been heated at high temperatures, resulting in cocoa, many of these beneficial nutrients degrade and are no longer significantly present.

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