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Home / Cocoa vs Cacao: The Great Debate

Cocoa vs Cacao: The Great Debate

Cocoa vs Cacao – The Great Debate. While both cocoa and cacao are derived from cacao beans, the difference all comes down to the processing of the chocolate.

recipe for chocolate spread

What is the Difference Between Cocoa vs Cacao?

First, we need to define the differences between cacao vs cacao. Then I want to tell you why we choose raw cacao and the tremendous health benefits. Keep reading to learn all about it — or skip ahead to check out our chocolatey recipes.

What is Cacao?

Cacao is the minimally processed product of cacao beans, resulting in a highly nutrient-dense, rich powder. In order to achieve a high percentage of nutrients, cacao is cold-pressed to remove the cacao butter, and roasted at low temperatures.

Raw cacao contains up to four times the antioxidants of traditional cocoa powder—making it a food with the highest antioxidant value. It has a whopping 95,000 ORAC value score per 100gms.

What is Cocoa?

Unfortunately, the more commonly available of the cocoa vs cacao is the highly processed form called cocoa. This is what you’ll find in almost all commercially packaged cocoa powder drink mixes and in canisters in the baking aisle.

While is does still maintain some of its original nutrients, it is not nearly as beneficial as its unprocessed counterpart; cacao.

cocoa vs cacao

Why We Choose Raw Cacao Powder

Throughout our Clean Cuisine site you’re going find countless recipes using cacao powder and even a few with cacao butter. It’s our preference to use raw cacao powder because we are all about getting the most from the most natural form of food.

Not only is it full of delicious nutrients, cacao powder is loaded with health benefits.

Where to Buy Cacao Powder

Thankfully, most grocers are now carrying organic cacao powder, but the best pricing and of course, free quick delivery comes from Amazon. Toss a bag of this organic cacao powder in your cart and use it as a measure-for-measure swap for classic cocoa powder.

cocoa vs cacao

Health Benefits of Cacao:

Packed with flavonoids, raw cacao powder can support several areas of the body. Plus, mixed with coconut sugar for added sweetness, you’re boosting the nutrient level.

Flavonoids are a kind of antioxidant which protect the body from disease and from aging.

  1. Cacao Powder May Help Reduce a Risk of Diabetes – Flavonoids are smart and perfectly helpful and may help increase the insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of diabetes.
  2. Helps to Boost your Immune System with Antioxidants – Cacao Powder has one of the highest antioxidant levels and will support the immune system by staving on diseases and boosting the immune system.
  3. Naturally Reduce your Inflammation with Raw Cacao Powder – The flavonoids, once again are very helpful with reducing overall inflammation. They may lessen your risk of certain cancers, diabetes, depression and linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Improve your Heart by Reducing Disease Risk – Not only does cacao powder contain a plethora of flavonoids, it also is high in potassium. These potassium levels have been known to support the heart and reduce the risk of disease. Again, by lower inflammation and stressors in the body, the cells will also be reduced.
cocoa vs cacao

How to Use Raw Cacao

If you’re looking for a way to get more raw cacao powder into your diet, here are a few of our favorite ways to add it into our weekly menu.

#1: Make your Smoothie a Superfood Smoothie

By adding just 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder, you can turn any one of our Smoothie Recipes into a Superfood Smoothie. Try this Chocolate Banana Smoothie for a big boost!

#2: Make a Mug of Hot Chocolate — or Rather Hot Cacao

While conventional recipes for homemade hot chocolate are not exactly in alignment with clean eating, this one most definitely is. In addition to being dairy-free, this Recipe for Hot Chocolate has no refined sugar. Sweetness primarily comes from pureed dates along with a touch of pure maple syrup.

#3: Or a Big Tall Glass of Cold Chocolate Milk

Using our homemade nut milk recipes, try adding some cacao and a natural sweetener to nut milk for a big glass of cold chocolate milk. I like to use the Homemade Almond Milk and some maple syrup.

#4: Add Raw Cacao Powder to Chocolatey Desserts

It’s so easy around here to add cacao powder to dessert recipes, because it’s all that we use. But, if you have your own recipe for muffins, biscuits or cakes, just replace it cup-for-cup with the cocoa ingredient — or add a few tablespoons to a recipe to make it chocolatey.

Keep reading to find my favorite recipes for raw cacao powder and my decadent homemade recipe for Chocolate Spread.

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Recipes with Cacao Powder or Cacao Bars

Here are my favorite Clean Cuisine recipes with cacao powder or cacao bars chopped into chips:


Recipe for Chocolate Spread

Recipe for chocolate spread is bursting with delicious, rich flavor. Perfect for cupcakes, muffins or by itself.

recipe for chocolate spread
Save Recipe
  • Prep Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 812 1x


  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecan butter or walnut butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sea salt, to taste


  1. To a classic batter bowl, add the maple syrup, pecan butter and cacao powder. Using a hand mixer on low speed, combine together until creamed.
  2. Add the almond milk, vanilla and sea salt. Combine again.
  3. If the frosting is too thick, add more almond milk just 1/2 a tablespoon at a time, thoroughly mixing in between.

Last Step! If you loved our recipe, leave us a review below. This helps future recipe makers and ensures continued high-quality recipes for years to come!

© 2024 clean cuisine Recipe by:

Aimee Niedosik

Aimee loves to craft delicious, nutrient-dense recipes to share with her family and friends. While in remission from autoimmune diseases and underlying viruses, she still maintains an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging diet. Aimee is a Christian, website designer, autoimmune community leader and lives in North Carolina with her husband, 2 kids and 2 dogs.

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Charm Cheng

Saturday 30th of March 2024

It's clear for understanding cacao and cocoa.

Madison Suttles

Monday 1st of April 2024

Hi there,

We're so happy you benefitted from this article!

Thanks for sharing, Madison

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