Organic Raw Cacao Vs Cocoa & Its Health Benefits
What is Cacao?
Cacao can refer to any of the products sourced from raw cacao beans, nuts, seeds or the tree itself. Examples include Cacao Butter, Cacao Nibs and most commonly seen would be Cacao Powder.
Cacao Vs. Cocoa?
The difference between Cacao and Cocoa lies in how the Raw cacao bean is processed. Cacao undergoes heavier processing which involves being heated at higher temperatures to become the end product known as Cocoa. This process does not only change the name of the final product, but it also affects the bean on a physical and molecular level, changing its structure and significantly reducing its nutrient content.
This is where the differences begin to unravel themselves. As Cacao is less processed and more natural, it has a significantly more powerful antioxidant content which is one of its primary health benefits. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) levels are much, much higher in Raw Cacao powder at around 96,00. In comparison, Cocoa Powder has an ORAC level of only 26,000. Thus when choosing between the two options, be aware the Cocoa has a far higher nutrient content and antioxidant capacity.
Another issue that this brings up is nutrient degradation via heating. It’s obvious when looking at the antioxidant information above, that the heating process of creating Cocoa from Raw Cacao kills a high amount of the beneficial nutrients. So if you do choose to use Cacao for its health benefits, try to use it where possible in its Raw form. That being said, if you are going to use Cacao or Cocoa in baking, or expose it to heating, Cacao is the best one to use as it has the most nutrients to begin with. If you start with Cocoa powder, you are already starting with a nutrient compromised product.
One point to note when consuming Cacao for its health benefits is to try and limit using it in conjunction with dairy products, as dairy limits the body’s ability to absorb all the beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients.
So, what are the main health benefits of Cacao?
This Amazonian Superfood has a long list of health benefits! Cacao has contains over 300 phytochemicals including minerals, vitamins and nutrients including Iron, Zinc, Fibre, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Sulfur and Copper. Cacao also includes Caffeine, Polyphenols, Quercetin, Flavanols and Theobromine.
1. Significant Source of Calcium.
Raw Organic Cacao contains very high amounts of Calcium. Per 100g serve it contains more Calcium than cow’s milk. 160Mg per 100g of Raw Organic Cacao vs. 125mg of dairy milk.
2. Highest Plant-Based Source of Iron.
Raw Organic Cacao contains the highest amount of Iron out of any plant-based source! 7.3mg per 100g. This is over DOUBLE the amount of Iron per 100g in Spinach (3.6mg). This is non-heme iron though, so ensure you are getting adequate amounts of Vitamin C in your diet to maximise absorption.
3. Mountains of Magnesium.
Raw Organic Cacao is a great plant-based source of Magnesium, which is the most commonly deficient mineral in todays western world. Magnesium assists in a wide variety of functions within the body. It helps to convert glucose into energy which allows your brain to function optimally, as well as being highly beneficial to heart health.
4. Ample Antioxidants.
Raw Organic Cacao contains TONS of healthy antioxidants. In fact, it contains over 40x more antioxidants than Blueberries (which are known for their high antioxidant content). Raw Organic Cacao has an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of around 96,000 per 100g, which is significantly higher than that of Blueberries, which is 2,400 per 100g. Antioxidants are very important within the body to scavenge free radicals (caused by pollution and food toxins), which cause tissue and cell damage, that over time can lead to degenerative diseases like Cancer.
5. High on Heart Health.
Researchers have shown that Cacao reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cacao has been shown to assist in lowering blood pressure, improving platelet function, decrease LDL oxidation (and raise HDL, the “good” cholesterol) and reduce overall inflammation.
The Bottom Line?
Wether Cacao or Cocoa, there will be health benefits with the consumption of both. However, the benefits are much more pronounced with the consumption of Raw Organic Cacao, as it is in its most natural form and has not been subject to high heat during processing to become Cocoa. Not only that, but if it is to be used as an ingredient in cooking, it will have the highest health benefit potential starting out, against starting with an already antioxidant compromised product (cocoa).
Physique Chef only utilises 100% Raw Organic Cacao in its products, so you can be assured you are getting the highest quality.
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