The Cacao tree (also cocoa tree) is a small evergreen tree native to the tropical forests of Central and South America.
Its seeds (or beans) are made to use chocolate and either cacao or cocoa powder.
For the record, cacao powder is the result of cold-pressing raw cacao beans, while cocoa powder is made from roasted beans.
Similarly, raw cacao nibs are the inner kernels of de-shelled raw cacao beans, while regular cacao nibs are the inner kernels of de-shelled roasted cacao beans.
In short, cacao is derived from raw cacao beans, while cocoa is made from heat-processed cacao beans.
In any event, Raw Cacao is considered a true superfood, containing over 300 compounds, including magnesium, anandamide, antioxidant flavanols, theobromine, phenylethylamine and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which are said to offer the following health benefits:
- Magnesium, for strengthening the heart, building strong bones and lifting the mood
- Anandamide, the ‘bliss chemical’ in chocolate
- Flavanol antioxidants, for lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease
- Theobromine, for relaxing the muscles and dilating blood vessels
- Phenylethylamine, for helping the brain to stay alert;
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, for enhancing the circulation of neurotransmitters, thus inhibiting the ageing process
And all you have to do to take advantage of the health benefits bestowed by this tropical wonderfood is eat chocolate!
Note: If you are using cacao for specific dietary or medicinal purposes we suggest you consult a qualified nutritional or medical practitioner for further, dietary-specific information.