Most people are probably more familiar with the type of Cocoa that is processed to make our favourite snacks and boxed chocolate collections and consider Cacao just another variation. Cacao is in fact the purest form of chocolate you could possibly find and comes without many of the added ingredients and processing that you’d find in your everyday chocolate bar.
Cacao and Cocoa aren’t simply two ways to say the same thing!
Cacao and Cocoa are both harvested from Cacao tree seed pods, before they take different journey towards their end products. Cacao undergoes considerably less processing that usually only involves drying and fermentation. Cocoa and the chocolate variations however, are heated at much higher temperatures, processed with chemical solutions and mixed with an array of additives, such as sugar, fructose, syrup or dairy products to boost the sweetness.
While the Cacao tree is native to tropical regions of Central and South America, around 70 per cent of Cacao is grown in West Africa today, and many other regions of the world support the trade.
While a Snickers or Mars Bar may contain similar properties to Cacao, everyday chocolate products truly pale in comparison to their health properties. A general rule is that the darker and more raw the type you can find, the more chance it will have of containing the natural benefits of Cacao.
The natural nutrients and beneficial healthy properties of the Cacao bean are impressive. As the purest form of the ingredient, it contains an extremely high amount of ingredients such as iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and copper.
The flavonoids in Cacao also combat free radicals that pose a threat to your health and youthful appearance. Damage from these toxins can lead to gradual deterioration, but a diet that includes Cacao will have a much better chance of protecting itself.
The important thing to remember with Cacao is that it isn’t as sweet as the Cocoa powder or chocolate ingredients you might be used to. So when you prepare food with Cacao, make sure you factor in the slight bitterness.
When you realise that the sweetness we associate with chocolate is simply a product of all the sugar and additives applied during the process, it probably won’t be very long until you become a Cacao convert!
Cacao nibs are a great way to introduce Cacao into your baking, smoothies or even cereal. They are simply Cacao beans chopped up into small pieces and act much like chocolate buttons or chips, but contain no additives.
We’re not saying that you should give up chocolate all together or relinquish your favourite snacks and boxed chocolate collections. We simply think you should realise that Cacao is basically a supercharged version of chocolate that you should try to factor into your diet as much as possible over other types.
Pick up a bag of superfood Cacao nibs today and start experimenting with all your favourite recipes!