Many recent studies show that chocolate is actually good for us as it provides many health benefits. As a matter of fact, chocolate is even listed as a superfood! The health benefits revolve around the antioxidant content of cacao, the key ingredient of this product.
What Is The DIFFERENCE between CACAO and COCOA?
Some chocolates are made from cacao while some are made from cocoa. Although both are obtained from cacao beans, the difference is in the way they are made from the same cacao beans.
Cacao is made through cold-pressing of unroasted cacao beans while cocoa is made from roasted cacao beans which have been processed at high temperature. When exposed to high temperatures, the cacao beans actually lose their nutrients, meaning that you end up with a nutrient-free powder.
In the case of cold-pressing, there is minimal processing and all the nutrients remain intact. In other words, you get a true cacao with a robust nutritional profile.
Why You Want Cacao Rather Than Cocoa
Unfortunately, many chocolate manufacturers use unhealthy ingredients in their manufacturing process in order to get a cheaper product. They tend to mix cocoa butter with vegetable oils or add soy lecithin and high fructose corn syrup. Not only the taste alters a lot, but the nutritional benefits get lost and detrimental ingredients take their place. On the other hand, quality chocolate contains cacao and natural ingredients.
What Chocolate Is Best?
It has been scientifically proven that dark chocolate is far superior to chocolate candy bars or milk chocolate due to its high cacao and antioxidant content.
Benefits of Cacao
- Boosts mood
- Protects the nervous system
- Help prevent cancer
- Improves vision
- Improves memory loss
- Contains more antioxidants than goji berries, acai, and blueberries
- Have lots of minerals, including magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc and manganese
- Increases the levels of some neurotransmitters, promoting well-being and brain health
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduces risk of stroke
- Lowers blood pressure
Where To Find Cacao Powder And Real Chocolate
Cacao powder can be found both online and in local health food stores while dark chocolate made with cacao is available in local health foods stores, at small chocolate stands at the farmer`s market, online, at the natural food aisle at the supermarket, and in small artisan chocolate shops.
When buying chocolate, make sure you check the ingredients and the cacao percentage. Aim for at least 70 percent cacao and make sure it is spelled cacao, not cocoa. Making your own dark chocolate from cacao is the best way to ensure getting the most of it, so check out the recipe below.
Homemade Chocolate Bars
- ½ cup of virgin coconut oil
- 4-6 tbsp. of raw honey
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- Optional ( raw cacao nibs, coconut flakes, raw nuts, seeds, dates, sun-dried fruits, goji berries)
Mix the coconut oil with honey and then stir in the cacao powder. Stir until the mixture gets thick and then add the extra ingredients, to your preference. Transfer the mixture into a flat container or chocolate molds and freeze until solid. To use it as chocolate chunks or chips simply break it into small pieces. In case you want to use it as chocolate sauce, melt it. As simple as that!