Chocolate is made from cocoa beans – or rather seeds – from Theobroma cacao trees. The plant produces large, seed-like fruits, each containing 20 to 60 pods surrounded by sticky, and sweet-pungent white pulp.
Manufacturers of raw (unroasted) or less refined cacao bean products often use the word cacao rather than cocoa, implying that their products are more natural.
Cacao and cocoa may sound similar, but both are unique when it comes to taste and nutrition. Cacao and cocoa both are used in the making of the same product like lip balm, butter, chocolates, cakes, face creams, etc. Here is the comparison between cacao and cocoa so that you can make a well-informed decision of what to choose!
When comparing nutrition labels of products made from cacao beans (whether raw or roasted), the biggest differences you see are in calories, fat, and sugar content.
Here’s a look at how 1 ounce (28 grams) of some cacao products has been compared:
|Unsweetened Cocoa Powder||Unsweetened Cacao Nibs||Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips||Dark Chocolate, 70% Cocoa|
|Fat||3.5 grams||11 grams||8 grams||13 grams|
|Saturated fat||2 grams||2.5 grams||5 grams||8 grams|
|Protein||5 grams||9 grams||1 gram||2 grams|
|Carbs||16 grams||6 grams||20 grams||14 grams|
|Added Sugars||0 grams||0 grams||18 grams||9 grams|
|Fiber||9 grams||3 grams||1 gram||3 grams|
|Iron||22% of the RDI||4% of the RDI||12% of the RDI||30% of the RDI|
Cacao products like organic raw cacao powder, cacao butter, and cacao chocolates are used as excellent sources of minerals including magnesium, manganese, selenium, and chromium, but are often not shown on nutrition labels.
Generally, the darker the chocolate – the higher the cacao content – the higher the mineral content.
Also Read: Is Cacao and Cocoa the Same Thing?
Comparing nutrition labels also won’t tell the difference in antioxidant content, which can be influenced by cacao variety, increasing conditions, and processing method.
In general, less processed cacao to which less heat has been applied – such as raw cacao – contains more antioxidants.
Health Benefits And Risks Associated.
Cacao beans and the products derived from them are rich sources of beneficial plant compounds, especially flavanols, which have antioxidant, cardiovascular-protective and anticancer properties, among other health benefits.
Cacao also contains iron which is easily absorbed by your body unlike some plant sources of the mineral. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians may particularly benefit from this, as their iron sources are limited.
Cacao products also contain tryptophan, an amino acid used by our body to make serotonin in the body, which is a brain chemical that helps relaxation.
Despite these benefits, remember that chocolate is high in calories. If you eat a whole 3-ounce (85-gram), 70% -cocoa chocolate bar, you will get 480 calories, 24 grams of saturated fat and 27 grams of added sugar.
By choosing cacao products such as dark chocolate and nibs, you can reduce the health risks associated with eating too much sugar, including weight gain and dental issues.
Also Read: Benefits of Cacao In Skincare: You Must Know
Taste And Use.
Your choice of cacao products will depend on your taste buds and how improving using the products.
For example, unsweetened cacao nibs are healthier than standard chocolate chips, but you may find them very bitter. Consider mixing the two as you adapt.
As for raw cacao powder, you may find its taste and quality better than standard unsweetened cocoa powder. However, raw cacao powder usually costs more.
If you buy raw cacao powder, keep in mind that the heat can destroy some of its antioxidants. Instead, consider adding it to the smoothie.
To avoid the antioxidants being destroyed by heat, use raw cacao nibs in trail mix or other uncooked creations.