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Cacoa versus Cocoa
How much difference is there?

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Cacao / Cocoa - Similar spelling, different product


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I usually buy organic chocolate and/or cocoa so when I first considered cacao, I wondered what the difference was and whether I'd be making a healthier choice by choosing organic cacao. I had tried cacoa before and didn't like it. It tasted a little bitter to me and my palate was used to sweet chocolate. I didn't know then that fermentation was the way cacao was produced but have read a lot about the benefits of consuming fermented foods. As with most nutritional topics, there is not just one view of cacao. Because it is a "raw food" product, the importance of an organic label and quality control is strong because of bacterial concerns. Also, it is usually not considered a nutrition staple but recommended most as an occasional supplement to diet.

Recently, I received a free sample of an organic fermented cacao powder so I thought, what the heck, I'll give cacao another try. I drink bulletproof coffee every morning, adding Mt. Capra Goat whey and organic coconut oil. So... I decided to add in a little organic cocao and organic coconut milk to the mix. After I read a bit more about the difference between cacao and cocoa and it seemed that the healthier choice might be cacao. Cocoa is far more processed and, usually, sugar and other ingredients are added whereas raw, fermented cacao is one ingredient. I love a Hershey bar as well as the next person but I would be fooling myself to think it was the best chocolate option. That all being said, I'll mention again that the online consensus tends to be that cacao is not a food that should be over-consumed due to both it's stimulating nature. The caffeine content means it could also be addictive.

I'll be honest ... the fermented organic cacao powder was strong and it took a little more coconut sugar than I usually use to get the taste to suit me. Still, less sugar than a chocolate bar or sweet chocolate drink mix. The coconut milk powder was great and everything blended together easy with a little electric wisk. By the second day, I had developed a taste for the cacao, maybe because my body accepted it as a welcome nutritional boost. However, due to what I've read online suggesting moderation of consumption, I am only using a teaspoon every other day. I also only take cacao in the morning, so it will not interfere with my sleep. Fermented organic cacao is definitely antioxidant-rich (ORAC score of 1086!)and it seems my body likes a little of it so my tastebuds are just going to have to get in line with it!

Side Effects of Cacao:
As mentioned earlier, cacao contains caffeine. In fact, it contains more caffeine than cocoa. Those wishing to cut down on caffeine, or those for whom too much stimulation interferes with sleep or contributes to anxiety, may want to forego both cacao and cocoa. Too much cacao (consuming on a daily basis) may tax the adrenal glands and, much the same as too much coffee, may also put stress on the kidneys. Some feel the potential for addiction with cacao warrants attention due to cacao containing both caffeine and theobromine. Since cacao is a "raw food" product, some have concerns about bacteria. However, any type of raw food has more of a potential for contamination with bacteria, including raw fruits and veggies. Choosing from a company that offers organic cacao and tests for bacterial growth may reduce that concern, as long as the cacao is stored properly after purchase.

Buying Coconut Products:
I use organic coconut milk powder and fermented organic cacao, along with the best goat whey on the planet, in my bulletproof coffee every other morning. Since I use and recommend coconut products, I thought I'd speak a bit about them here. I've noticed that everyone and their brother now offer coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut water, etc. Be careful. The labels may sound good but there are certain things you wanta look for in a coconut product. Most of what I look at in mainstream grocery stores is not organic. Of those that are organic, most are certified only by the USDA standards. USDA organic only requires that a product be 70% organic. I have to settle for USDA organic a lot in my neck of the woods but when I can, I also look for "100% organic" on the label. Perhaps as important as the organic label, most coconut oil I see on the shelves is not labeled as being cold-pressed. Extracting the oil with high heat results in a substantial lost of nutritional value so I look for the words "Cold Pressed" on the label. In addition, the following words are important for coconut oil: Virgin and Unrefined.

Nutritional Health Disclaimer: Consuming too much cacao (daily consumption) may put stress on adrenal glands so if you have an adrenal condition, check with your doctor before adding this product. Consumed occasionally and in small servings, cacao may add important antioxidant benefits and electrolyte minerals but no product on the Ask a Healer website is represented as replacement for any needed medical attention, testing or treatment. This information is for nutritional purposes only. Cacao is a stimulant so may not be appropriate for those trying to limit caffeine. Since it is a stimulating product, it should not be consumed too close to bedtime. Also, pregnant and nursing women should check with their doctors before adding cacao to their diet.