Cocoa V Cacao

by | Sep 9, 2016 | 0 comments

Good Morning friends! Happy Friday!

Over time I have been asked often (especially when I post a recipe with Cacao in it) … ‘exactly, WHAT is the difference (besides the spelling and price) between Cacao and Cocoa?’ … SO I have called in my trusted friends and experts to answer this for us all! I hope you find it helpful and informative!

Peter from ‘Mullen Health Hamilton‘ is one of Australia’s leading Naturopaths, who has helped thousands of people achieve their health goals during his 25 years of practice. Peter specialises in Iridology, children’s health and digestive disorders, and has a particular interest in working out the cause of health complaints that have been plaguing people for a long time.

Gina from ‘Nutrition by Gina Rose’  who is a Clinical Nutritionist based in Brisbane, with a special interest in women’s health and infant nutrition. Gina has over 10 year experience in the health care industry and is a mother to 2 young children.

Cocoa V Cacao – Peter Mullen

Until recently, you have probably never even heard of cacao. Growing up, mum would use cocoa when baking treats like chocolate brownies and muffins, slices and rum balls.

Now, cacao is considered a healthier alternative. But do you really know the difference? And no, the answer isn’t just a few letters!

Both cacao powder and cocoa powder come from the same source – the cacao bean – but there is a big difference when it comes to nutrition.


Cacao is the basically the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate. The cacao fruit tree produces pods, which are cracked open to release beans. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing the uncooked cacao beans, meaning they are unprocessed and additive free. Cacao therefore contains nearly four times the antioxidants found in dark chocolate, and also retains its nutritional benefits of protein, fibre, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, calcium and essential fatty acids.

There are many health benefits of cacao, including:

  • reducing free radical activity
  • lowering insulin resistance
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • protecting your nervous system
  • boosting your mood!

Other products made from the cacao fruit tree include cacao butter (made from the white, fatty lining of the bean) and cacao nibs (beans that have been chopped into edible pieces).


Cocoa powder may look the same, but there’s a very big difference – heat treatment. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures, destroying its nutritional benefits and changing its molecular structure.

So there you have it!


Cocoa V Cacao – Nutrition by Gina Rose

I haven’t met anyone in my life that doesn’t like chocolate. It’s a rich, indulging, food for the soul that can be extremely rich in nutrients, if and only if you are eating the right kind of chocolate. Not all chocolate is created equally, I’m sorry to say that the sweets isle of your supermarket does not offer the potent nutritional qualities that I’m about to talk to you about.

Cacao is becoming increasingly popular in the nutritional health world with raw deserts, hot chocolates & healthy super foods popping up all over social media. So let me tell you the difference between cacao & cocoa.

They sound very similar, but they are quite unique when it comes to taste, nutrition & cost.


Comes form Theobroma Cacao Tree, which produces pods containing cacao beans. Cacao beans can be processed in different ways to produce either cacao butter, which is the fattiest part of the part of the bean. It is creamy and has a delicious buttery texture and kind of resembles white chocolate.

When the cacao butter is removed the inner remaining part of the bean is used to produce cacao powder.

Cacao powder is rich in antioxidants, magnesium vitamins & enzymes. It is actually considered raw as it is slightly heated but at a low temperature to retain all of the nutrients.

Research has proven cacao benefits in lowering insulin levels, which helps our bodies break down sugar. Great for those with type 2 diabetes & polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Another study has found daily consumption of cacao improves heart health. It is the flavanols that naturally occur in cacao that are cardio protective.

It is also seen to dilate the blood vessels reducing high blood pressure.

The reason I love it is because it is a potent antioxidant preventing free radical damage. It has more than 20 times the antioxidant power of blueberries! Antioxidants protect us from free radical damage caused by stress, toxic exposure & inflammation. I think everyone needs this protection and especially my clients trying to conceive. Antioxidants protect our DNA that goes into the blueprint of your children. Great little fertility booster.

You may have also heard of cacao nibs, they are simply the whole beans that have been chopped up into little chocolate chips. They hold all the nutritional value of the butter & inner antioxidant rich powder. They are quite bitter on their own but complement sweet treats perfectly.


Cocoa is a lot cheaper to cacao but non-the less it still holds nutritional value. Cacao has certainly stolen the limelight but the good old-fashioned cocoa is still a great source of antioxidants that support your heart, skin & fertility.

The difference between the two is the extreme heating process that cocoa goes though which makes it less bitter. This heating process does destroy some of the nutritional value but it still yields a good source of antioxidants. You also need to be mindful of added fillers like powered milk & sugar that further detracts form the nutritional benefits.

So whilst the cacao & cocoa have a huge nutritional punch they can actually go from hero to zero as soon as they are turned into a block of chocolate. It is the addition of dairy that blocks the absorption of the nutrients found in chocolate.

There are some lovely vegan chocolate’s out there or make your own sweet chocolatey treats.


By Nutrition by Gina Rose

1 cup sweet potato puree*

¾ cup almond or hazelnut meal

¾ cup coconut flour

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

½ cup unsweetened cacao powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup virgin coconut oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the real stuff)

1 cup freshly brewed coffee (or hot chocolate)

½ cup dark chocolate chips

plus more for topping (optional)

METHOD: *To puree sweet potato, peel & cut into small chunks then steam until tender. Cool & puree in the food processor, blender or mixer. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease 9” springform pan with butter. In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, coconut flour, coconut palm sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add sweet potato puree, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer and mix on low until combined. Stir cooled coffee into the mixture. Fold chocolate chips into batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the cake. (optional) Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.


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Coconut Condensed Milk Cake

Peppermint Patties

A MASSIVE Thank you to Peter and Gina for their time and expertise with writing these information posts for me. If there are any other topics you would like to know about, I would love to hear your suggestions. In the meantime, be sure to head over and LIKE their FB pages as you will gain a wealth of knowledge from them.



Take Care of You,

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