Cacao Vs Cocoa

Cacao VS Cocoa

Cacao Vs Cocoa

What is the difference between cacao and cocoa?

What is cacao? What is cocoa? All the same, they sound similar, but they’re not the same. We all love chocolate, but we are all confused about the difference between cacao and cocoa. Let’s read further to find out the difference between cacao and cocoa. Cacao is the rawest and purest form of chocolate. This is the least processed compared to the other chocolate bars or cocoa powder. And cocoa is in powder form and is also referred to as a lower quality version of cacao. And it is usually heated before being manufactured.

The uses of cacao and cocoa:

As cacao and cocoa are replaceable, you can make cookies, smoothies, and chocolate milkshakes. Cacao and cocoa both taste great and are high in nutrients. If you want more nutrients, go for cacao, and if you don’t mind the extra calories, go for cocoa powder. It contains the most antioxidants, which are good for the skin and the heart. 

Raw cacao is a source of magnesium. Getting enough magnesium is not only related to lower risks of diabetes but is also healthy blood pressure, to build strong bones, lowers cardiovascular disease and also improves nervous system.

Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that is abundant in cacao and cocoa powders.

It inhibits pro-inflammatory enzymes in the body, which has anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body.


After reading the pros and cons, you’ll have a better idea of which one is the healthier option.



  • Nibs can be used as chocolate chips.
  • It has more antioxidants.
  • Cacao butter can be used as a moisturizer.


  • It is bitter.
  • Not rich in flavor,


Cocoa Pros

  • Sweet
  • Better for baking.


  • More calories
  • A bit more processing
  • Lesser nutrients and antioxidants

The contents of cacao and cocoa

The cacao seeds contain 35 to 50% of a fixed oil, about 15% of starch, 15% of proteins, 1 to 4% of theobromine, and 0.07 to 0.36% of caffeine 3 . 

Cacao can be converted into many forms, like cacao nibs, paste, and powder. Cacaos are beans that are cut into pieces, containing fiber and other nutrients that cacao beans have. The paste is made from nibs and is slowly heated into a bar. but has the same nutrients as nibs. It is a less processed form of chocolate powder.

Cocoa powder is the same as cacao. To have the health benefits, make sure you buy real plain cocoa powder. It boasts fiber, fat and a little protein.

Is Cocoa processed?

Cacao beans are raw as they’re processed at low temperature and is not roasted and in this process it retains the living enzymes and also takes out the fat. Cacao is the most pure form of chocolate available.


How is Cocoa processed?

Cocoa looks mostly like cacao but the only difference is that cocoa powder is a resultant of raw cacao which is roasted at high temperatures. Cocoa processing involves fermentation and roasting but cacao is only fermented. Cocoa lacks nutrition benefits unlike cacao because of the extra heating. 


According to NCBI

The type of chocolate consumed most in the United States is milk chocolate, which typically contains 10%–12% cocoa liquor. Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate is commonly referred to as dark chocolate and must contain at least 35% cocoa liquor by weight. White chocolate is made up of only cocoa butter (at least 20% by weight), sweeteners, and dairy ingredients.

Cocoa in the United States

Cocoa beans do grow in very limited areas in the US. And also, cocoa, essentially, is a plant native to tropical regions. Environments with heavy rainfall and high temperatures are the best. Annual rainfall of 200–350 cm is ideal for it to grow.

Cacao enhances the mood 

Studies show that the flavor of Cacao helps in enhancing the mood, and thus improves cognitive activities and combats depression. 

Cacao is high on fiber 

Both cocoa and cacao are extremely rich in fiber. It helps in controlling blood sugar levels and prevents risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Cocoa is one of a whole host of flavonoid-rich foods. Although the ratio of cacao used in chocolate products varies, raw cacao products made from fermented, dry, or unroasted cacao beans are less processed and healthier. On the other hand, dark chocolate also contains at least 70% cocoa and is one of the best sources of antioxidants and minerals. Both cocoa and cacao contain health benefits, but as with all things, moderation is the key to a healthy diet’s success.



Can I substitute cacao for cocoa?

Yes, it can be a substitute, but you should remember to use less of it because it tastes stronger and bitterer. Cacao powder is more absorbent, so for all liquids, the measurements should be increased.

Is cacao stronger than cocoa?

Cocoa powder has a stronger flavor, so you’ll have to use less of it than cacao powder. Cocoa powder does not absorb as much as liquid cacao powder, so you may use it according to what you’re substituting it with.

Does cacao powder taste like chocolate?

Cacao powder is made from dried paste or cacao nibs, which concentrates the dark chocolate flavor.

Is cacao and cocoa butter the same?

Cocoa butter, also called cacao butter, has the same flavour and aroma as cocoa and is considered a vegetable fat.

Also, a fact that you need to know is that, despite the name, butter is vegan and contains no dairy products.

Why are cocoa beans roasted ?

Roasting accomplishes a variety of tasks. It helps in the separation of the outer husk from the inner bean and enables cracking and winnowing. It also almost completely sterilises the cocoa bean. This is significant because of the conditions under which cocoa beans are fermented. 

Do cacao and cocoa come from the same plant? 

They both are harvested as beans and then are processed and transformed into different products. And cacao is the raw kind of cocoa. 





Snehal Joshi

Snehal is a Certified Nutrition Coach by National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is writing about her persuits of Nutrition Science since last 4 years.

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