Health Foods: Cocoa vs Cacao vs Corob powder

As I was making my buckwheat granola,  using Carob powder instead of my usual Cacao powder. I began to wonder what exactly the difference was between Cacao, Cocoa, and Carob powder.  Cue this blog post….. I done some research and I found some interesting facts.

Cacao and cocoa start off exactly the same, pods from the Theobroma cacao plant, but along the way there are differences in the manufacturing process that lead to production of two different products. Cacao is a pure, ‘raw’ powder that is high in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits. While cocoa is the more processed form, it is lower in nutritional value and health benefits but has a richer, sweeter flavour. Carob powder however is made from the toasted, then ground, pods of the carob tree.

Cacao

Cacao Powder

Cacao powder contains the minerals calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. It contains essential fatty acids and around 230mg of caffeine and 2057mg of theobromine per 100g powder.

Cacao powder is definitely a healthy alternative to conventional over-processed “cocoa” used for baking, hot chocolate, desserts and smoothies. My favourite use for cacao powder is adding a spoon or two to my porridge in the morning with some banana.

A 2 Tbsp. serving of cacao powder contains  50 Calories, 1g Fat, 0g Sugars, 4g Protein, and around 4g of Fiber.

cocoa-powderCocoa Powder

Cocoa powder comes from cocoa beans that grow in pods on the cacao tree. The beans are fermented, dried, roasted and cracked; the nibs are ground to extract about 75% of the cocoa butter, leaving a dark brown paste called chocolate liquor. After drying, it is ground into powder. Cocoa powder contains several minerals including calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. It too long with cacao powder contains the mood enhancing chemicals caffeine and theobromine.

A 2 tbsp. serving of cocoa contains just 25 calories and 1.5 g of fat, 2g of protein and 3.6 g of fiber, which is 14 percent of the daily value, and 8 percent of the daily value of iron and 14 percent of the daily value of magnesium.

carob2

Carob Powder

Carob powder is made from the toasted, then ground, pods of the Carob tree. They’re a great source of sugars and have around 8% protein. It’s also a good source of vitamin A, B vitamins and some minerals.

The sugar n carob powder is in it’s natural state and not an added ingredient. Because it is more naturally sweet, you use less of it than cocoa or cacao powder. Carob powder unlike cacao and cocoa powder is caffeine free and is more alkalising for the body.

A 2 Tbsp. serving of cacao powder contains  50 Calories, 0g Fat,  3g Sugars – this is a natural sugar and not added, 0g Protein, and less than 1g of Fiber.

Looking at all three carob powder seems to come out on top for me given that it is caffeine free, low fat, high in natural fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and it is naturally sweet – great for people like me who have a sweet tooth. Carob powder also seems to be much cheaper to buy than Cacao powder in my local health shop, so it’s a clear winner for me.

This is the brand I usually buy for around €3.20. Its a 250g pack and it usually lasts me around 6-8 weeks.

Some tips for using Carob powder:

  • The carob powder is used as a substitute for cocoa powder or chocolate in cakes, cookies and other sweet treats.
  • Hot beverages are made using carob powder, instead of coffee or packaged hot chocolate.
  • For making cookies and muffins, carob chips are used in place of chocolate chips.
  • Add to your morning porridge if you have a sweet enough tooth in the morning.
  • Add it to a banana smoothie to give it a chocolaty taste.
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