THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CACAO AND COCOA
The technical difference
The Cacao Tree (Theobroma cacao if you’re into botany-speak) is the tree from which the cacao bean comes. Cacao beans are found inside the “fruit” of the tree, in football-sized pods. When we see “cacao nibs” or “powdered cacao” for sale, we are seeing the bean in its raw state, uncooked and unprocessed.
After the beans are cleaned, roasted and processed, they are called “cocoa.”
The nutritional difference
Cacao and cocoa are both antioxidant powerhouses, though cacao is significantly more powerful. ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is a method of measuring antioxidants in biological samples. It is likely not something you typically consider as much as calories or other nutritional facts, but it is useful when comparing apples to oranges. Or, cocoa to cacao.
Per 100 grams:
- Raw cacao powder has an ORAC value of 95,500
- Raw cacao nibs have an ORAC value of 62,100
- Roasted cocoa powder as an ORAC value of 26,000
Raw cacao powder therefore has significantly more antioxidant power. To boot, raw cacao is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sulfur.
Unfortunately, once roasted and processed, cacao, now cocoa, loses much of its nutritional benefits.