Cacao vs Cocoa: Understanding the Differences

Love it? Share it!

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between cacao and cocoa, you’re not alone. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings and applications. Even though both are derived from the cacao plant, there are distinct differences between them that can impact your recipes—and health! Let’s dive into what makes each unique and how they can be used in different ways.

What Is Cacao?

Cacao is the seed of a fruit tree native to Central and South America. It’s also referred to as cocoa, although there are many differences between the two words. The main difference between cacao and cocoa is that cacao refers to unprocessed, raw chocolate (which may include things like nibs), while cocoa refers to roasted and processed chocolate.

Cacao beans are naturally high in flavonols, antioxidants that have been shown to protect against heart disease by improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In fact, one study found that eating dark chocolate every day for three weeks lowered blood pressure for people with hypertension! Cacao also contains minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc—to name just a few—that play an important role in keeping your body healthy overall.

What Is Cocoa?

Cocoa powder is the ground, roasted seeds of the cacao tree, which is native to Central and South America. It’s used in baking and chocolate making—but it’s still referred to as a cocoa product.

Cocoa powder has a bitter flavor, so it’s often mixed with sugar or milk before being consumed by humans. A cup of cocoa can contain as many antioxidants as a serving of dark chocolate!

Which To Use and When

To answer the question about which to use and when, you need to understand that both cacao and cocoa are processed versions of raw chocolate.

Cacao is a raw form of chocolate that has been fermented, dried, roasted and shelled from the beans. Cocoa powder is made by roasting cocoa beans until they’re browned and then grinding them into a fine powder form. The process removes some of the nutrients present in raw cacao but also produces a smoother taste (which may be why it’s more popular).

Cacao contains antioxidants like flavonols and polyphenols—some even have antioxidant activity only found in nature in dark chocolate (1). Because it’s less processed than cocoa, it’s often seen as superior by many health experts who believe that eating plant-based foods helps maintain good health.


Cacao and cocoa are two different forms of a common ingredient. Cacao is the raw form of chocolate, while cocoa is generally processed and refined. Though both types of chocolate come from the same plant, they have different uses, flavors, and benefits for your body.

If you’re looking for a nutritious snack or sweet treat that will keep you feeling full longer than sugar-filled treats like cookies or cakes would do so without any negative effects on your health then this article has helped inform you about what makes each unique product special in its own way so that next time when shopping at Whole Foods Market we hope this helps guide your choice between these two great options!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *