Cocoa + Cacao: Same Same but Different?


Learning to navigate this beautiful new world of health, nutrition and wellness has left me endlessly curious when it comes to these awesome things labeled "super foods". From the steppes and plateaus of the Andes mountains to the sheltered valleys stretched across Asia we are blessed to have a variety of nutritional powerhouses at our fingertips. But do we know the benefits of these awesome fruits, berries and seeds?

In the spirit of mindful consumption I want to dive into some of these awesome, antioxidant rich, longevity aiding foods, and I figure why not start with what is the foundation for creating chocolatey, delectable, glow-promoting deliciousness.

Cocoa + Cacao

Know the difference? I definitely didn't, but at any rate I'm a huge fan of keeping it short and sweet so here we go: Cocoa + Cacao - same same but different.

Get Technical

Theobroma cacao is the small, yet glorious, evergreen tree whose seeds (known as beans) are harvested to create goods like cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and chocolate. Fun Fact: The generic name is derived from the Greek for "food of the gods"; from θεος (theos), meaning "god," and βρῶμα (broma), meaning "food".[1]

The Difference

Cacao (nibs, powdered etc): The bean in its raw, uncooked, unprocessed state. Cocoa: After the beans are cleaned, roasted and processed.

The Nutritional Exploration

Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing the unroasted beans; this process removes the fat (cocoa butter) and leaves behind the living enzymes which are beneficial to our health! Cocoa undergoes high-temperature roasting in which the molecular structure of the bean is changed and subsequently lowers the overall nutritional value. [2]

Raw cacao powder has an ORAC* value of 95,500
Raw cacao nibs have an ORAC* value of 62,100
Roasted cocoa powder as an ORAC* value of 26,000

*ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is a method of measuring antioxidants in biological samples

As you can see, Raw Cacao packs quite a punch in the super-food ring. Alongside the arsenal of antioxidants it also contains a multitude of other health-boosters including essential fatty acids, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium, sulfur and vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B9 + E.

Cool, so Cocoa? sure. Raw Cacao? Yes please. Now we know.

aaaaaannnnndd...for kicks I'll leave you with this (because I really, really dislike dairy + really, really love dark chocolate): Research shows that dairy may negate the potential health benefits of Raw Cacao (raw dark chocolate). [3]

eat on, folks.