Valentine’s Special: Cacao vs Cocoa? Is there any Difference?

Valentine’s Special: Cacao vs Cocoa? Is there any Difference?

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Eatology Limited  Eatology Limited Eat Healthy Live Easy  on 14 Feb '18

Now that the holiday season is over, what’s the next big event to look forward to? Valentine’s Day of course! Rich and indulgent, chocolate has become a staple in most every couple’s relationship, so this Valentine’s Day you might be thinking of getting your partner a thoughtful box of choccy to mark the occasion.

But what do you know about this beautifully velvety treat?  Other than its ability to make you happy, and maybe a little guilty at the same time, choosing the right chocolate can provide you with several health benefits. Before elaborating on this, one important thing to note is that you might have encountered different types of cacao bean products in your daily life without knowing their differences. We’re here to help you out with deciphering the details.

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Differences between cacao powder and cocoa powder  

Cacao and cocoa powder are the by-products of cocoa bean processing. The major difference between cacao and cocoa is the result of the temperature at which the cocoa beans have been processed. The original taste of cacao is like very bitter chocolate, while cocoa, resulting from heating the cacao beans at a higher temperature, has a sweeter flavour. By applying different heats on the cocoa beans, varying degrees of nutrients are lost. The beans themselves are a good source of antioxidants owing to the high level of polyphenol flavonoids they contain (which basically means they’re very good for you), with some still retained in cocoa after processing. Cocoa powder is used with other ingredients to make dark chocolate. The amount of polyphenols in the various forms of processed cocoa beans is ranked as follows: cocoa beans> cacao powder > cocoa powder.

Health benefits of cocoa beans

So what are these polyphenol flavonoids that are so very good for you? Polyphenolic compounds have shown to provide beneficial cardiovascular effects. The antioxidant capacity of cocoa is even higher than that of green tea and red wine, exerting a stronger effect on scavenging free radicals in our body that can cause cellular damage. Polyphenolic compounds also lower the chances of membrane and DNA damage. Meanwhile, the flavonoids help to improve arterial blood flow and decrease blood pressure. All in all, they reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality.

After knowing the numerous health benefits that cocoa beans have, you might now be wondering which chocolate you should go for, dark or white?

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Dark chocolate and white chocolate

Dark chocolate is manufactured by adding cocoa butter to cocoa powder and contains no milk solids, while white chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. White chocolate is not truly categorised as chocolate as it does not contain any cocoa powder, which makes it taste much sweeter and richer than dark chocolate. The higher the amount of cocoa powder, the more bitter and darker the chocolate. As a result, only dark chocolate provides positive health effects owing to its cocoa powder content. White chocolate, on the other hand, gives you nothing but calories, sugar and fat. So before picking the chocolate you want to eat, remember the darker you go, the more your body will thank you.

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