Cacao Vs. Cocoa - There is a Difference

Cacao Vs. Cocoa - There is a Difference

Craving chocolate? You aren’t alone. Chocolate tops the list of food cravings.

Now, digging into a milk chocolate bar isn't going to do your diet any favors. You know this – as much as you may hate to admit it.

Regular milk chocolate is loaded with sugar, rich in fat, and contains nearly as much energy as a full meal.

That doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy your craving. There are healthier forms of chocolate that you can turn to. Namely, cacao and cocoa.

Not sure the difference between them? Let’s take a closer look so you know which option you should add to your diet – guilt free.


A lot of people have never tried cacao, or even heard of it for that matter.

Cacao is the purest form of chocolate that you can eat so it’s far less processed than anything else you’ll get. As a general rule, the less processed a food is, the healthier it is for you, so that puts cacao on top.

Cacao is a source of

  • antioxidants
  • magnesium

This is important for active people because magnesium is required for maintaining strong bones, optimizing carbohydrate breakdown, and keeping energy levels up. In fact, chocolate cravings and magnesium deficiencies have been closely linked. *

Cacao comes from cacao pods, which grow on the cacao fruit tree. The pods are cracked open to release the cacao beans, which can then be processed to form either:

  • cacao butter
  • cacao nibs (beans chopped up into edible pieces)
  • cacao paste (melted nibs)
  • cacao powder

Cacao is great for baked recipes and is a terrific source of fiber and nutrients. You’ll also take in some monounsaturated fats with cacao, and even a small dose of protein.

Cacao v Cocoa


Cocoa on the other hand, is more processed than cacao is and is the form that you’ve likely used before. It’s widely available and comes in many different varieties – both sweetened and unsweetened.

If using cocoa, you’ll want to get the unsweetened variety to avoid excess sugar.

Cocoa is cheaper than buying cacao, and still a better option than milk chocolate as long as you choose one that's as natural as possible.

Make sure it doesn’t have any:

  • added sugars
  • added milk fats
  • oils

This isn’t to say it doesn’t have any antioxidants, they just aren’t quite as significant as cacao is.

Studies also suggest that cocoa, as well as cacao, can help support heart health as well. *

If you really want to ensure optimal health, opt for cacao in any one of the varieties it comes in, including cacao powder.

Try subbing cacao nibs in for chocolate chips in your next baking recipe and you’ll be amazed at the flavor it brings.

P.S. Please share this with your chocolate-loving friends and I welcome your comments below.


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