What You Need To Know About Cacao And Cocoa
Written by: Brandi Monasco
You’ve definitely heard of cocoa and many people have heard of cacao. There has been a lot of speculation between the two as to which one is actually healthier for you.
But what is the difference between the two and why are they so different?
Both dark chocolate and milk chocolate bars, chips, chunks and cocoa are derived from cacao. Cacao is the food with the richest content of magnesium and is also a very good source of antioxidants. Chocolate contains chocolate liquor, which is a product of cacao bean solids and butters, while cocoa, as we commonly know it as a powder, is the processed result of cacao beans. The cacao bean, sometimes called the cocoa bean, is the source of both chocolate and cocoa.
Cacao is a true superfood. It has numerous benefits for your body. Cacao is known to improve mood, supercharge your immune system, generate energy, help your memory, balance hormones, help prevent cardiovascular disease, shrink your appetite and dozens more benefits!
Nutritionally, cacao is a powerhouse to add to your diet. In only one ounce, there are a whopping 4 grams of protein and 12 grams of fat (good, non-cholesterol raising fat). In that one ounce, you also get 80 mg of magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, E and multiple vitamin Bs. Throw a spoonful (or two!) into your smoothie for a high-gear, healthy morning.
What makes chocolate unhealthy isn’t the bean, but the addition of sugar that is largely responsible for why you should eat chocolate in moderation. Cocoa, while not particularly unhealthy, is less desirable for your diet due to the roasting process of the beans required to process the cacao into cocoa. When heated, many of cacao’s scrumptious vital nutrients are lost.
The good news is that there are unroasted forms of cacao available for purchase. It comes most often in powdered form, but you can also find it in nibs (chopped beans), or in solid bars that are naturally sweetened to taste good without all the health drawbacks of your standard chocolate bar. There are even fermented options available that help kill the bitter taste without ruining any of the health benefits.
Though cacao is nutritionally superior to chocolate, there’s still something to be said about the delicious treat. Dark chocolate has been shown to be good for your heart, brain, skin and of course, your mood. Resisting chocolate forever isn’t the key to good health, but learning to moderate how much of it you eat will make for a healthy (and definitely happy) life.
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Brandi Monasco is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media manager from Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and has recently found a new love for health and nutrition.
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