Cacao vs. Cocoa

Did you know the powder used to make chocolate cake and hot cocoa is actually being praised as a super food? Not to be confused with cocoa, cacao is something different.

Similar to cocoa, raw cacao powder comes from the cacao bean. However, the big difference between raw cacao and cocoa powder is that cacao is made by milling the beans at low temperatures to protect the nutrients and flavor, whereas cocoa is extracted from the same bean, but at a very high temperature. This means cocoa may have been processed more and could have extra additives.

Why is cacao good for you? Here are a few reasons:

  • Raw cacao powder contains natural mood stimulants – anandamide the ‘bliss chemical’ that helps to lift your mood, and arginine an essential amino acid that helps to relax the blood vessels;
  • Raw cacao powder contains nearly four times the antioxidant power of regular dark chocolate;
  • The high levels of magnesium in cacao can promote heart health, building of strong bones and can help produce feelings of calmness;
  • Tryptophan, an amino acid found in raw cacao powder, can help us to relax.
  • Sulphur, found in cacao, can help to build strong nails and healthy, beautiful skin;
  • It’s easy to use – add it to smoothies, oats and protein balls or use it to make chocolate truffles, recipe can be found below.
If you’re looking to find cacao powder and you live in Quebec like myself, it’s a bit confusing. At least it was for me! Because raw cocoa powder and raw cacao powder look the same and on the packaging the French translation for the word cocoa is cacao! So both cocoa powder and cacao powder translate to cacao powder/poudre.  Confusing, right? Here’s the tip, check the ingredients on the back and make sure the only ingredient listed is raw cacao powder.

I picked up a 200g bag of the Prana organic brand for $8.99 at a local health foods store.

Have a great week!

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Starting again September 7th, we’ll be following a 30 minute daily workout plan, a simple clean eating meal plan with no starvation, and daily accountability. Lose up to 10 pounds in 21 days.  Create healthy habits that last. Back to school, back to routines, get back to your fitness. Send me an email ASAP for more information.

Featured Recipe

Cacao Truffles
5 large medjool dates, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes
20 raw almonds
1 Tbsp Cacao powder + extra for covering the truffles
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp coconut flakes (optional)


Drain dates from the water. Grind the almonds in a blender or food processor. Then add all other ingredients and pulse until combined. Form truffle size balls by rolling the mixture in your hands and then rolling in extra cacao and/or coconut flakes.


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