Cacao and Cocoa may sound the same and may mean the same thing to you, Chocolates!
But there are several differences between these cacao and cocoa other than their spelling. Each of them has its own unique taste, as well the health benefits and cost. Yes, even though they both came from the same source — the Theobroma cacao tree.
Cacao And Cocoa: The Difference
The tree, Theobroma cacao, is native to South America. It produces seed pods, and when they are harvested and cracked open, you will see a coffee bean-like seeds known as cacao beans. Cacao is the raw,unprocessed or minimally processed form.
Cocoa, on the other hand, refers to the roasted and processed form of cacao.
Cacao is the purest form after the harvest so it tastes very bitter. Cocoa, on the other hand, was produced when cacao beans are heated at a higher temperature and certain ingredients are added to make it less acidic and sweeter than cacao.
The great dissimilarity between cacao and cocoa lies on the processing methods. What happens next after they were harvested, fermented and dried will determine whether beans will be cacao or cocoa.
Raw cacao beans are made into several food products like cacao nibs, cacao butter, cacao mass or paste and the best-selling cacao powder. Cacao powder is produced by cold-pressing unroasted or heated at a low temperature cacao beans, keeping all the living nutrients and removing the fat – cacao butter.
Cocoa, as mentioned, underwent extreme heating procedure then manufactured into cocoa butter, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder.
Cocoa is the preferred chocolate-based powder in most dessert recipes and are available in two types:
Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder – known as the dark cocoa and processed with alkalized chemical solution so that the end product will become richer and less acidic. The procedure will further increase degradation of most antioxidants and nutrients.
Natural Cocoa Powder – more acidic, bitter and usually used with a baking soda
Take note that what the beans go through, and the way they end up, would have an effect on the degree of their health benefits.
In general, minimally processed cacao beans preserved most of the benefits than cocoa beans which went on different procedures in addition to the heat method.
Its phenolic phytochemicals and flavonoids protect and repair cells against damage caused by free radicals.
Its flavonol, epicatechin stimulates the protein to help regulate glucose production.
Protects Nervous System
High in antioxidant resveratrol which has the ability to cross your blood-brain barrier defending your nervous system against harmful substances.
Reduces Risks to Cardiovascular Diseases
Helps maintain nitric oxide levels in the body which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood vessel flexibility thus reducing blood pressure.
Boosts your Mood and Cognitive Performance
Provides phenylethylamine that promotes sense of well-being.
Provides Essential Minerals
Supplies enough amount of magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Perfect additive in Beauty Products
Both cocoa and cacao are incorporated in most moisturizers, hair conditioners, anti-aging creams, soaps, make-ups, and in aromatherapy with other essential oils.