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Cacao Vs. Cocoa

Cacao Vs Cocoa – What are the differences and benefits?

Published on June 25, 2020

At first glance, both cacao and cocoa may seem the same, but as you go deeper, you’ll notice some differences between cacao and cocoa, but there’s one thing they have in common: chocolate! Knowing the fact that both come from the same plant, they have some differences to mention.

comes from the cacao fruit tree that is full of cacao beans. Cacao powder is made of fermented beans that have not been roasted, and after being processed at low temperatures, it is milled into a powder.
Curious about its taste?
Cacao powder is bitter, and it is not as sweet as cocoa.
Cacao butter is another part of the cacao bean, which is white and looks like white chocolate. Cacao butter can also be used for baking or even moisturising.

On the other hand, cocoa powder is not only fermented but also roasted and processed at a high temperature, which makes it taste less bitter and seem slightly darker. Cacao powder has more nutritional value than cocoa powder.

Now, let’s compare the nutrition of cacao and cocoa:

What are the benefits of cacao?

Eating cacao is a big help in decreasing the risk of diabetes, having strong bones, protecting the heart, preventing the body from developing cancer, reducing the risk of stroke, reducing blood pressure, etc.

Besides, if you are looking for a source of iron, fibre, and magnesium, you should add cacao powder to your diet. 

Now, let’s go into details:

  • Protecting the heart
    Cacao increases the antioxidant capacity in the blood plasma, and it is effective in reducing platelet reactivity.
  • Regulating insulin levels
    Eating cacao regulates glucose production and regulates insulin levels.
  • Lowering the blood pressure
    Another benefit of eating cacao is increasing the blood vessel flexibility and lowering the blood pressure.
  • Boosting the mood
    You might have noticed that people who use to eat cacao and chocolates seem to be happier and in a better mood. So, you can give it a try too.
  • Antioxidant effects
    The last but not least effect of eating cacao is protecting the cells against the damage from free radicals and keeping the body from premature aging.

How much cacao and cocoa should I eat every day?

Obviously, everyone has a specific body metabolism and different body functions, and the amount of intake calories and food varies from a person to another.

With that being said, generally, the recommended amount for eating cacao and cocoa is about 1 to 2 ounces or 30 – 60g per day.

Now, let’s go through the frequently asked questions about cacao and cocoa:

How can cacao improve the mood?

Sounds surprising that cacao can improve the mood and makes people feel better. Cacao contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which elevates the mood and gets high energy to the body. 

Is cacao inflammatory?

As you know, inflammation can damage cells and tissues and may increase the risk of some health conditions. So, you can reduce the inflammation and risk of several diseases in your body by eating cacao.

Is cocoa powder gluten-free?

Feel relaxed to eat cocoa powder because it is gluten-free, and everyone with any specific diet can eat the cake, brownie, etc., that includes cocoa powder.

How are cacao beans processed?

If you are curious about the way that cacao beans are processed, you shouldn’t miss the following steps. Once the cacao beans are harvested, they will be processed as the following:

  1. Fermentation
  2. Drying
  3. Roasting
  4. Crushing
  5. Grinding

What are the benefits of cocoa?

After knowing the benefits of cacao, you might be curious about the benefits of cocoa! So, we are giving you what you are waiting for.

Now, let’s go through the benefits of cocoa.

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves blood sugar level
  • Improves the blood vessel function
  • Lowers the risk of heart attack
  • Lowers the risk of stroke
  • Improves the blood flood to the brain
  • Improves mood and depression
  • Helps weight loss
  • It is good for skin

So, if you are surprised by the amazing benefits of cacao, add it to your diet and enjoy its benefits. There are also some delicious recipes for cocoa and cocoa that are mentioned in the following.

What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?

As we mentioned earlier, cacao powder is made of fermented beans that have not been roasted, while the cocoa powder is made of fermented and roasted beans, then processed at a high temperature.

Which is healthier cocoa or cacao?

If you are in a dilemma of whether to use cacao or cocoa, it is better to choose cacao powder since it has a higher amount of fibre and nutrients and is known as a source of vitamins, protein, and minerals.

Are cacao and cocoa the same thing in cooking?

Ever been confused to choose which one while deciding to make Brownies?

Cocoa powder is mostly used for baking brownies and chocolate cakes. In contrast, cacao powder has a lot of usages such as baking chocolate oatmeal, being used in a body scrub, being used for smoothies, etc.

Can you substitute cacao powder for cocoa powder in baking?

Of course, YES! But it would help if you kept in mind to use less of it because it tastes more bitter. Both cacao and cocoa have come from the same plant, and except for some differences, you are free to use them interchangeably.


What are the health risks of cacao and cocoa?

Despite all the mentioned benefits of cocoa and cacao, there are some disadvantages to eating them too much!

Chocolates are high in calories, and eating 85 grams of 70% cocoa contains 480 calories.

Where can I buy cocoa and cacao powder?

Natural Moreish is one of the online shops for buying nuts, dried fruits, snacks, bakery or confectionery ingredients, etc. that provides high-quality products.

By help of Natural Moreish company, you can buy cacao powder, non-deodorised cocoa butter, deodorised cocoa butter, dark chocolate drops, raw cacao powder, organic white chocolate couverture drops, roasted cocoa nibs, milk chocolate nibs, milk chocolate drops, organic raw cacao nibs, etc.

Cacao and cocoa recipes

Hot chocolate

hot chocolate


How to make hot chocolate?

  1. Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan over high heat, using a whisk to break up any clumps.
  2. Keep stirring until smooth and piping hot, then pour into a mug and serve warm.
  3. Top with dairy-free whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

Paleo Brownie

paleo brownie


  • 1/2 cup organic cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

How to make paleo brownie?

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease the pan.
  2. Add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse to combine.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Spread batter in pan.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes, until set but still slightly moist in the center.

Double chocolate muffins

double chocolate muffins


  • 200 grams almond flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mini gluten-free chocolate chips or chopped paleo dark chocolate

How to make double chocolate muffins?

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease or line muffin tin.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Using a large ice cream or cookie scoop, fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
  4. Bake 25 – 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Double chocolate macadamia ice cream

chocolate macadamia ice cream


  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 1 cup cashews soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 13.5- ounce can organic coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup local raw honey or maple syrup for vegans
  • 1/3 cup organic raw cacao powder
  • 1-1 /2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts

How to make double chocolate macadamia ice cream?

  1. Add water, cashews, coconut milk, honey, cacao powder, vanilla, and salt to a high-speed blender and blend on high for 2 minutes.
  2. Refrigerate them until thoroughly chilled.
  3. Mix chocolate chips with chopped macadamia nuts. Put in the freezer until needed.
  4. Once the ice cream mixture is chilled, freeze in ice cream maker.
  5. Add chocolate chips and macadamia nuts for the last 5 minutes of churning.

Lime cheesecake

lime cheesecake


  • 1 cup almonds
  • 6 dates
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon lime zest
  • 4 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
  • 6 tablespoon coconut oil melted

How to make Lime cheesecake?

  1. Soak the cashew nuts overnight in enough water to cover.
  2. To make the base, place the almonds, dates, coconut oil, cacao powder, and shredded coconut in a food processor and blend until smooth and combined.
  3. Spoon the base mixture evenly into 8 silicon muffin mold and set aside.
  4. To make the filling, place the cashews, coconut milk, lime juice, lime zest, honey, vanilla essence, and coconut oil in a food processor and blend until smooth and combined.
  5. Spoon the filling evenly on top of the base and place it in the freezer to set for 1 hour.
  6. Before serving, remove for 10 minutes to soften and store any leftovers in the fridge.

All in all
Cacao is more antioxidant, but it is not as sweet as cocoa. On the other hand, while cocoa has a sweet taste and is recommended for baking, it is more processed and contains fewer nutrients and antioxidants.

PS. This article is written based on the research that Natural Moreish content team has done on different blogs, websites and articles. Natural Moreish doesn’t suggest acknowledge or claim the information on this post.


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