Raw Cacao vs. Cocoa: what's the difference? + Healthy homemade chocolate
When it comes to nutritional composition, health benefits and how it is made, there is a difference between Raw Cacao and Cocoa.
Raw Cacao (or Cacao) is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacoa beans. This process keeps the living enzymes in the cacoa and removes the fat (cacao butter). You can purchase raw cacao in powdered form and use it in smoothies, hot chocolate, chocolate recipes or to make homemade chocolate.
Health Benefits of Raw Cacao:
Rich in minerals magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese – which also makes raw cacao a woman’s best friend around that time of the month when extra magnesium and calcium in the diet can relieve PMS symptoms!
Contains more antioxidants (including resveratrol & polyphenols) per 100g than acai, goji berries and blueberries – antioxidants are said to fight free radicals and protect against cancer and aging.
Improves mood and libido – cacao contains neurotransmitters phenylethylamine and anandamide. Phenylethylamine triggers the release of endorphins and increases libido, whilst anandamide is known as a “bliss” molecule, increasing feelings of happiness and joy.
Lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and high blood pressure – resveratrol is said to help maintain healthy levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the body, relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure.
Cocoa on the other hand is cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Roasting changes the molecular structure of the cacoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value. Furthermore, when making chocolate with cocoa, refined sugars are added to make it sweet and palatable (and many would say, leaves us craving more, making portion control challenging).
When it comes to buying chocolate powder for recipes, raw cacao/cacao is nutritionally a better option.
Side note: I’m a big chocolate lover and will of course still enjoy store-bought chocolate. But when you’re feeling in the mood you can make an easy chocolate at home and top it with your favourite nuts, seeds, berries and other goodies!
Healthy Homemade Chocolate
With just a few ingredients, its easy to make your own delicious and healthy chocolate at home! Try this recipe next time you want a sweet fix with a lower sugar option and higher nutritional benefits.
Makes: 20 pieces
- 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/2 cup unrefined/virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 cup 100% maple syrup or 1 tbls stevia (for no sugar option)
- pinch sea or rock salt
- Toppings (optional): your choice of chopped nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, goji berries, craisins, etc.
- Melt coconut oil and maple syrup/stevia in a saucepan over low heat. Be careful not to overheat.
- Turn off the heat. Add in raw cacao powder and salt. Stir until well combined and if using stevia, ensure it is dissolved.
- Pour out onto a small flat baking tray lined with baking paper or into ice cube trays or chocolate moulds. Sprinkle over any toppings.
- Set in the fridge for a few hours, or the freezer for 30mins if short on time.
*Note: Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat as it melts quickly!