Although cacao and cocoa are very similar, looking almost identical and practically spelled the same, both come from cacao trees they should not be confused with one each other.
The healthier relative of cocoa, raw cacao is made by cold-pressing non roasted cacao beans, which preserves the nutritional content. Cocoa is heavily processed, roasted at high temperatures and has a lot of sugar added to it, which almost destroys the health benefits.
Have at breakfast, as a smoothie, added to steak meals, truffles, cakes, energy bars ......
Perfect for ... amazing cake finishing touches.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature
Where to start? It is a great source of Magnesium for the brain, strong bones, regulating heartbeat and blood pressure. High antioxidant levels for cardiovascular and nervous system, by preventing free radicals from forming. More antioxidant flavonoids than any food, including blueberries, red wine, and black and green teas with up to four times the quantity of antioxidants found in green tea. The official EU stance is that “Cocoa flavanols help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels which contributes to normal blood flow.”
It is believed that, although less scientific evidence exits, that Cacao contains the mineral sulphur helping build strong nails, hair, great skin skin and detoxify the liver. Purportedly mood-boosting, Cacao increase the level of serotonin in the brain acting as an anti-depressant, reduces PMS symptoms, and gives general feeling of wellbeing. (Could be because it tastes so delicious!)
Organic Cacao is rumoured to also stimulate the secretion of endorphins, like a high after exercise or ahem!, Loving! This is due to compound found in cacao; PEA or phenethylamine and the only other food known to contain PEA is blue-green algae.
A note on chocolate. (Killjoy!)
Cacao is the first cacao powder scientifically proven and verified by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) to support heart health. It contains twice the flavanol content of regular cacao powder.
Bear in mind that chocolate is made from Cacao, which is a good source of nutrients but then combined with sugar and fat making chocolate an energy-dense food that could contribute to weight gain and a higher risk of disease. As an occasional treat, chocolate can be part of a healthy diet. Eaten too frequently, it is an unhealthy choice.