Cacao is the raw, unprocessed cacao bean which grows in pods on Theobroma cacao trees, native to Africa, Asia and South America. Cacao powder has a rich and somewhat bitter taste with a deep dark chocolate flavour. Its extreme health properties and low-calorie intake make it a superfood.
What’s the difference between cacao and cocoa powder?
Cacao powder is less processed than cocoa powder and, therefore, retains its health benefits. It has natural sugar, but the amount is minimal and has no artificial or added sweetener.
Cocoa powder is heavily processed and, therefore, loses a lot of its nutritional properties. Similarly to cacao powder, it doesn’t have much natural sugar, but nearly every company adds a high sugar dose for that sweet, chocolatey flavour you’re used to.
Nutritional benefits of cacao
Cacao is bursting with crucial vitamins and minerals, containing high doses of iron, magnesium, protein, antioxidants and calcium. This makes the bean fantastic for the heart, hair and skin. It also reduces the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and enhances gut health.
Packed with iron - If you have an iron deficiency or want to increase your intake for better energy, include cacao in your diet. You can add the powder to baking or nibble on cacao snacks to boost your iron levels and enhance brain function.
High in magnesium - Cacao is an extreme source of magnesium, which you need for a healthy circadian rhythm. It enables the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). It won’t make you go to sleep immediately. In fact, cacao is high in caffeine, so avoid eating after 4 p.m.! But it will help you produce melatonin in the evening so you can drift off with ease.
Source of protein - Cacao is fantastic to add to your snacks for a high-protein diet. It will help you build and repair muscle and has slow-releasing energy. That means you will feel full for longer, and your moods will be more stable, compared to the glucose energy spikes and drops that can come from eating products that use processed cocoa.
Rich in antioxidants - UV rays, pollution, age and many other factors cause radical damage - when loose atoms harm cells in your body. The process breaks down collagen (a protein that gives skin and tendons strength and elasticity) and even causes some cancers. Cacao is a fantastic source of antioxidants to fortify your body against radical damage for a healthy lifestyle.
Contains calcium - Cacao contains more calcium than cow's milk. Who’d have thought it? So, if you’re vegan or don’t like dairy, add cacao to your nutrition for strong bones and teeth. However, unlike cow’s milk, cacao has a high caffeine content. So, don’t consume it right before bed.
Easy ways to eat cacao
Cacao is a quick substitute for cocoa powder or cocoa products. It gives you a chocolate fix and a bombardment of health benefits. Here are a few simple ways to eat cacao:
Replace hot chocolate with hot cacao - Instead of using hot chocolate powder packed with sugar, make a warming mug of hot cacao. Add vanilla essence and maple syrup for a kick of sweetness.
Make cacao and raspberry porridge - Heat your porridge over the hob and stir a tablespoon of cacao powder with a few squares of dark chocolate. Add raspberries and indulge in your chocolatey breakfast.
Bake with cacao powder - Whip up a chocolate cake using cacao instead of cocoa powder. Remember, cacao doesn’t have the sweetness of cocoa, so you may want to balance the flavours with fruit.
Snack on cacao nibs - Nibble on little pieces of heaven with our cacao nibs. They give you energy without a sugar spike and mix wonderfully in a trail mix.
Treat yourself with cacao buttons - Our delicious cacao liquor buttons and cacao butter buttons are luxuriously smooth and rich.
At Grape Tree, we choose the finest cacao products for their delectable and rich flavour. Browse our selection of organic cacao powder, cacao nibs, cacao liquor buttons and cacao butter buttons today.