So today I got asked if I had made a mistake in one of my recipes for smoothie containing cocoa.
“Don’t you mean cacao, surely you don’t mean cocoa as cocoa doesn’t contain any nutrition and is an inferior product”
NO I didn’t make a mistake and YES it does contain nutrition.
Cacao is the unprocessed cocoa bean popular as it contains high levels of nutrients such a flavanoids, theobromine, magnesium and a range of antioxidants. It has been handles less and is closer to its natural state. Cacao sells for approximately 6 x higher than cocoa.
The next step is to take this cacao and process it to produce the cheaper version – cocoa. The word on the internet street is that cocoa is far less superior to cacao.
So is cacao worth it?
Well, if you have the money…go for it. It contains higher levels of nutrients and more nutrients as a whole.
I am a huge fan of cocoa powder as it also contains very high levels of potassium which is crucial for protecting out heart and keeping our blood pressure under control. It contains magnesium, antioxidants to protect against cancer, and theobromine (a stimulant, diuretic and widens the blood vessels). Interestingly, many of the studies linking heart and brain protective benefits of chocolate have used the humble cocoa in the studies NOT cacao. Most importantly, it is very cheap and accessible to everyone.
I see a lot of baking recipes calling for ‘raw cacao’. The heat will damage many of the properties that cacao is touted for anyway so I always use plain cocoa if I am going to heat it as it’s not worth the money spent on the cacao.
We use both, although we can’t afford to always buy cacao.
For the price, the humble cocoa powder still carries many nutritional benefits and is a great addition to smoothies or bliss balls for that cheeky chocolate hit.
Be sure to choose a cocoa powder where the only ingredient is ‘cocoa’ and not one with added sugar, milk powders and other things.
Cacao does contain higher levels of nutrients, though if you can’t afford it to splurge $20 on a bag of the stuff then there’s no reason to feel that you are an ‘inferior foodie.’