BEST IDEA THIS MONTH:
CACAO, THE PUREST FORM OF CHOCOLATE, IS PACKED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS AND OFFERS SEVERAL HEALTH BENEFITS.
Raw, organic cacao is a super food that’s an exceptional source of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your DNA against damage from pollution and ageing and also help to decrease inflammation, which is linked to many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Cacao is also rich in important vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, selenium, zinc, copper and potassium.
Cacao originates from the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao – ‘theobroma’ roughly translates as ‘food of the gods’. The tree produces cacao pods that are cracked open to release cacao beans. From there, cacao beans are sweated, fermented, and dried before being processed a few different ways. The outer lining of the bean is fatty and is turned into cacao butter; the rest of the bean can be chopped or ground to form nibs and powder.
The difference between cocoa and cacao lies in the level of processing, which also determines cost, nutrient content and health benefits. Cacao (ka-cow) is made by cold pressing unroasted cocoa beans and is the purest form of chocolate you can eat. Cocoa (ko-ko) is derived from the same plant but is roasted at a high temperature during processing, which reduces the antioxidant levels. The bitter tasting cocoa powder is then combined with sugar and fats to make the storebought chocolates that we all know and love.
Both cacao and cocoa are very good for you and can be used interchangeably in baking recipes, smoothies, and so forth but if you want an extra nutritional boost then raw cacao is the way to go. Unfortunately, as with many other types of health food, raw cacao is more expensive than cocoa but its extraordinary properties might be worth the extra cost!
Cacao is rich in important vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, selenium, zinc, copper and potassium.