There has been a lot of talk about cacao powder being a 'superfood'. Have you always wondered what it actually is? Is it really that different from cocoa powder? Or how do you use Cacao powder? Read on to find out!
Like cocoa, the stuff that is generally used in drinking chocolate, 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 flavour, 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 powder good for you?
- 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 and make us feel sleepy. A cup of hot chocolate using raw cacao powder before bed could help you achieve a good night's sleep;
- 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 replace cocoa powder in baking recipes
On a different note:
- Cacao has been around forever! The Mayans and Aztecs used cacao not only as a food, but also as a form of currency and as a system of trade;
- The Mayans used cacao to create a ritual beverage that was shared during betrothal and marriage ceremonies. This is possibly the first link between romance and chocolate!
- Cacao was very valuable to the Aztecs, so much so that it was counterfeited. People would hollow out the pods, fill them with dirt and try to pass them off as freshly harvested cacao pods;
- The Spanish Royal family used cacao beans as dowry when the were looking to marry into other European aristocratic families.
What are your favourite ways to use cacao?