Cacao and Cocoa are not simply two ways to say the same thing. Although they start from the same place, they’re processed quite differently. Essentially, Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you could possibly find, while Cocoa, cocoa powder or chocolate has been refined to varying degrees, resulting in the chocolate bars and treats that we all know and love.
Where does Cacao come from?
Cacao and Cocoa both originate from the same Cacao tree native to tropical regions of Central and South America. Today around 70 percent of Cacao is grown in West Africa and many other regions of the world are known for supporting the trade as global markets continue to consume large quantities of chocolate.
Harvested from the Cacao tree seed pods, both these ingredients start their journey in the same way. While, Cacao undergoes considerably less processing that usually involves a drying and fermentation process, Cocoa and the chocolate variations on the other hand will be heated at much higher temperatures, processed with a chemical solution and mixed with additional ingredients such as sugar, fructose, syrup or dairy products.
What’s so great about Cacao?
The great thing about Cacao is it retains all the natural nutrients and beneficial healthy properties of the Cacao bean throughout the process. It is the purest form of the ingredient and therefore contains the highest amounts of ingredients such as magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and copper.
The chocolate that people typically consume every day from Snickers to Mars Bars contain similar properties to Cacao, but they truly pale in comparison when it comes to their health benefits. Ultimately, the darker and more natural the type you can find, the more chance it will have of containing the amazing natural benefits of Cacao.
Moist people don’t realise this, but Cacao is actually one of the most powerful superfoods in the world and contains more antioxidants than most fruits that are famous for high antioxidant value such as blueberries!
The flavonoids in Cacao also protect your body against free radicals. As damage from these toxins can lead to deterioration of health and appearance, Cacao is a great way to protect yourself from aging and disease.
Cacao nibs are simply Cacao beans chopped up into small pieces. They’re much like chocolate buttons or chips, but are naturally darker and more bitter in taste as they contain no additives.
Once you’ve got your hands on some Cacao nibs, the possibilities are literally endless. Whatever family recipe you have that includes chocolate chips in, you’ll be able to make an easy substitution with Cacao nibs that will incorporate all the amazing benefits (and arguably greater flavour) of the Cacao nib.
The only thing to remember is that Cacao is not as naturally sweet as Cocoa powder or the chocolate that you might be used to. But when you realise that this is mostly a product of all the sugar and additives applied during the process, you probably won’t mind a little less sweetness for a truck load more flavour and health benefits!
Should you give up chocolate?
The simple answer is no. We’re not saying that because Cacao is basically a supercharged version of chocolate, you should give up your favorite snacks and boxed chocolate collections - but we do recommend that you try to factor in as much pure Cacao into your diet as possible.
In addition to the wide ranging health benefits of Cacao, you will still be able to achieve the same delicious flavor of chocolate by using Cacao nibs. Pick up a bag of superfood Cacao nibs today and start experimenting with all your favourite recipes. You’ll soon be a Cacao convert!