- Cacao is a much less processed form of the bean
- Both are rich sources of fibre and iron
- Cacao has got a greater content of anti-oxidants
Well the difference between the two items doesn’t start and stop at the placement of vowels. First, there’s a key difference in the process of each of their production. Cacao is made by cold-pressing raw cacao beans. While, cocoa powder is produced from raw cacao that is roasted to extremely high temperatures. Now, the key distinction is that in the production of the former (cacao), the living enzymes are preserved but in the latter (cocoa), the enzyme content lowers and the nutritional value of the product reduces. Cacao is also the purer form of chocolate, and generally holds no added sugar, oil or milk fat which is present in processed forms of cocoa, but not in the organic variety of the same. Therefore, while the root product of both cocoa and cacao is the same, the varying processes of creation suggest that cacao is a healthier alternative to cocoa.
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Here are certain key benefits of cocoa and cacao:
1. High on Fibre: Both cocoa and cacao are extremely rich in fibre. High amounts of fibre help in the control of blood sugar levels in the individual and even prevents the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
2. Strong quantities of magnesium: Raw cacao in particular is a great source of magnesium. Magnesium lowers risk of diabetes, helps build your bones stronger, regulates blood pressure, promotes heart health and keeps a check to maintain a healthy nervous system.
Also read: Dark Chocolate Leads Your Way To A Healthy Heart
3. Rich in anti-oxidants: During processing, cacao often loses upto 60% of the anti oxidants and flavanols (important for healthy blood vessels). Raw cacao also has about 40 times the antioxidants as blueberries. These anti oxidants play a key role in reducing inflammation and additionally flavanols help in the regulation of cholesterol and promote better cardiovascular health. This also protects the body from damage by free radicals and can reduce the risk of cancer.
4. Helps you cheer up: Cacao and cocoa contain phenylethylamine which is a substance that has mood boosting capabilities. When this substance comes in contact with dopamine produced in the body, your brain is signalled to make you happier, satisfied and at times more relaxed.
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5. Great source of iron: Cacao is one of the best plant based sources of iron. The bean itself contains 13.9 mg of iron per 100 gm serving. This iron content is extremely useful in the transportation of oxygen molecules to various parts of your body. It can keep you energised, and ensure that your muscle tissue in particular doesn’t cramp up due to the low levels of oxygen.
6. Calcium heavy: The raw form of cacao is extremely rich in calcium as well. With 128 mg of calcium per 100 gms serving, it is comparable to the calcium levels of milk in the same serving. This is incredible, as calcium is a key nutrient for the building of bones, muscles, nervous system and even the release of certain hormones.
While cacao in its raw form isn’t as popular as the cocoa variant, try to get your hands on some exotic cacao products like unsweetened cacao nibs, to test out the differences for yourselves!