- Matt Tamasi - Co-founder of SUTRA Superfoods
Cocoa and Cacao - they’re the same thing, just spelled slightly different, right?
While many people assume this is the case, the reality is that despite tasting, looking and smelling the same, cocoa and cacao are vastly different.
Cocoa is the highly processed version of it’s more pure superfood cousin, cacao. To make cocoa powder, you roast the cacao bean in high temperatures, which strips them of their enzymes and nutritional value. On the flip side, raw cacao is made from cold-pressing the unroasted cacao bean, leaving all of the beneficial phytonutrients.
Ok, so now you know the difference between cocoa vs. cacao, but let’s dig some more. It’s clear that both are processed differently, and that cacao maintains it’s beneficial phytonutrients. What most people don’t know is just HOW beneficial these health properties actually are for those who are consuming cacao daily.
Cacao is rich in magnesium, a vital mineral that supports muscle and nerve function.
There are 40x more antioxidants in cacao than blueberries, which provide ample support in fighting damaging free radicals.
A study concluded that cacao could reduce the risk of coronary disease and stroke due to its positive effects on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular health.
Cacao is loaded with fiber and has been shown to keep bowel movements regular.
Consuming cacao triggers the release of phenylethylamine and anandamide, two chemicals that have been shown to enhance mood.
Cacao is the highest plant based source of iron, which can help prevent anemia (combine with a great source of Vitamin C to maximize benefits).
There is more calcium in cacao than cow’s milk, meaning you don’t have to skimp on this essential nutrient if you can’t stomach dairy.
Cacao contains MAO inhibitors that decrease your appetite and can help you lose fat.
The abundant sulfur found in cacao is an important mineral that helps maintain your hair, skin and nails.
Your chances of skin cancer are reduced due to cacao consumption.
Studies have linked regular cacao consumption with improved memory and thinking skills.
Cacao contains healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to olive oil, that are necessary for immune and metabolic function.
I’d say these are 12 VERY good reasons to bring cacao into your life! As a recap, cacao helps with brain function, cardiovascular health, mood, fat loss, digestion and physical energy. Hopefully you don’t need any more convincing as to whether you need this superfood in your healthy routine ASAP.
Now that we can agree we need cacao in our lives, what’s the best way to do so? The simplest way to use cacao regularly is to buy it in powder form and begin using it in your food and drinks. I’ve been doing so for over a year and have personally experienced some of the positive effects listed above. My favorite time of day to use cacao is when I hit my afternoon slump. Instead of reaching for a jitter inducing caffeinated beverage, I have some cacao and my energy/focus noticeably improves. Below are six ways to add cacao to your daily routine so you can experience this as well!
Use cacao in smoothies – the bitterness of cacao is a perfect compliment to the sweet flavor of a fruit smoothie. To make a cacao smoothie, blend 8oz of vanilla almond milk, ½ avocado, ¼ cup of blueberries and 1 tablespoon of cacao powder with ice to create an antioxidant rich meal.
Sprinkle cacao over fruit – the rich taste of cacao pairs perfectly with the sweetness of fruit. For a phytonutrient powerhouse, dust 1 cup of mixed berries - blueberries, blackberries and raspberries – with a tablespoon of raw cacao powder to make a not-so-average bowl of fruit.
Drink Cacao Lattes instead of coffee or tea – to make this superfood latte, add 1 packet of SUTRA Cacao Latte blend to 1oz of hot water to dissolve the blend. Fill a glass with ice and 8oz of your favorite nut milk. Add the dissolved blend to your glass, mix, and start healing!
Add cacao to healthy desserts – subbing cocoa powder for cacao is a great way to make desserts healthier. Try melting ¾ of a cup of coconut milk, ¼ cup of almond butter, ¼ cup of cacao powder, and 10 drops of liquid stevia in a sauce pan. Add the mixture to mini muffin tins and freeze for 15 minutes to make sugar free cacao cups loaded with antioxidants.
Use cacao to bake – mixing cacao in with your baking ingredients is an easy way to increase the nutrient profile of your baked goods. You can make keto friendly cacao bread by mixing 2 cups of almond flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, ½ cup of cacao powder, 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 32 grams of SUTRA Cacao Latte blend. While mixing, slowly drizzle in ½ cup of coconut oil until dough forms. Crack 5 eggs onto the dough, add ½ cup of water, and mix until a batter forms. Add the batter to a bread pan and bake for 40 minutes. Once done, let cool for 15 minutes and dive into the chocolatey goodness!
Eat quality dark chocolate– most chocolate bars are made from cocoa powder and loaded with sugar. However, many types of dark chocolate are low in sugar and high in cacao. Next time you’re shopping, look for a bar that has over 85% cacao. This ensures you’re getting the best quality bar, without the additives your body can do without.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make cacao a staple in your life. It is such a malleable superfood, and can be used in many other recipes to add a bittersweet taste and a powerful healthy punch. Start experimenting and you’ll be seamlessly incorporating cacao into your routine in no time! What are you waiting for?
Want to try the magic Cacao Latte mentioned in this post? Get the energy boosting benefits of cacao, along with a ton of other healthy ingredients in one easy-to-use blend. Try our healing SUTRA's below!
Matt Tamasi is SUTRA's Head of Sales and Co-founder. He is determined to educate others on the benefits of functional medicine so they can live healthier lives. This led him to co-found SUTRA, where he heads sales and operations with the goal of putting superfoods into the mugs of as many people as possible!
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