Before we start baking up a storm leading up to Christmas, let’s analyse the difference between cacao and cocoa.
Both come from the native tree Theobrama Cacao Tree in South America. The source of cacao and cocoa is the same. Beans are fermented and dried before they are processed any further.
Raw cacao beans are superfoods – bitter but they are the healthiest when eaten this way. They are packed with phenolic phytochemicals and flavonoids which protect cells from free radical damage and have powerful antioxidant effects. They also lower blood pressure, regulate insulin and glucose levels. Cacao beans are rich in nutrients like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Cocoa is heated at much higher temperature resulting in sweeter flavour and in the process destroys a lot of antioxidants and phytochemicals. The pro-chocolate studies are somewhat misleading, as most chocolate contains cocoa not cacao.
So as a simple step, let us maximise our nutrient intake by changing from cocoa to cacao in all our baking.