What is Cacao: Uses, Health Benefits, and More

by Jaywant Chowgule on Feb 10, 2022

What is Cacao: Uses, Health Benefits, and More

You may be familiar with the word Cocoa but what is Cacao all about?

Both names come from the word Theobroma cacao, the taxonomic name for Cacao tree.

As per several schools of thought, "cacao" seems to apply to the farm/origin level (pods, seeds, trees), and "cocoa" is accurate once the bean has been fermented and dried or roasted.

To avoid confusion, we here at Mangaal use “Cacao” to refer to the raw, unrefined bean of the tree. Whereas “Cocoa” is when the bean has been roasted.

Once the roasting has been completed, it can be processed into many forms – nibs, liquor, cocoa powder, or butter.

Uses of Cacao in Cooking

Apart from being used in making chocolate, cacao nibs are best used to create a crunchy, outer texture for several chocolate confections.

They create a nut-like consistency, without introducing allergens for those with allergies and can be a healthier alternative for recipes that call for cocoa powder.

Here are ways you can use cacao in your everyday foods to harness its benefits.

Add Cacao Powder to your Smoothies and Shakes

Smoothies and shakes make for a good pairing with cacao as the bitter flavour of cacao powder complements their sweetness.

Coffee with Cacao

If you are a coffee lover, how about adding a scoop of cacao to your cup? Since coffee beans already have traces of chocolate in them, cacao powder will only amplify the flavour.

Make Cacao Rich Brownies

If you prefer a much darker taste from your brownies then how about substituting the usual cocoa with cacao?

Depending on your tolerance, you may need to adjust the sweetness through sugar or a sugar alternative to counter the intense flavour of cacao.

Homemade Cacao Granola Bars 

If you are health conscious (we know you are) and prefer making your granola at home, why not add some cacao to it?

Use Rolled oats and nut butter to form your base, add some honey, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and sprinkle some cacao powder/cacao nibs to make for a balanced nutrition bar, full of flavour and nutrition.

Benefits of Cacao

Benefits of Cacao

Low Risk of Diabetes

Raw cacao is rich in magnesium and with regular intake of cacao helps keep the risk of diabetes at bay.

Healing from Hypertension and Stress

Besides keeping diabetes in check, magnesium also helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure.

This reduces the risks associated with cardiovascular diseases and helps maintain a healthy nervous system.

This in turn reduces stress levels, which boosts overall mental and physical health.

Anti-inflammatory properties 

Although short-term inflammation is important to combat injury and illness, severe inflammation on the other hand is harmful and is linked to various health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Due to the presence of polyphenols and flavonoids, cacao nibs have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Reducing inflammation may lessen the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, arthritis and depression.

Natural Antidepressant and Mood Elevator

Being a natural powerhouse of some feel-good chemicals such as Serotonin, Tryptophan, Tyrosine, and Phenylethylamine, cacao not only makes you feel happy but helps in alleviating depression.

Nutrition of Cacao

Eating raw cacao in the form of dark chocolate can get you about 60-70% of cacao’s nutrients. It is a good source of fibre, protein, and healthy fats, which all promote the feeling of fullness.

Raw Cacao is rich in several minerals including:

  • Magnesium
  • Iron 
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Manganese
  • Copper

Phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese are vital for healthy bones, whereas copper and iron are needed for producing red blood cells that supply oxygen to our bodies.

One serving of raw cacao powder (2.5 tablespoons) contains:

  • Calories: 60
  • Fat: 1.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 8 grams
  • Fibre: 5 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams

Try Mangaal’s Cacao Products

Here are some of our farm grown cacao products for you to try.

Cacao Nibs

Cacao Nibs

Cacao nibs are nothing but small pieces of crushed cacao beans that have a bitter and chocolate esque flavour. They can be either roasted or unroasted (raw nibs).

Though small in size, cacao nibs are full of nutrients and plant compounds, including flavonoid antioxidants, that have been shown to benefit health in several ways.

The list of minerals that cacao is rich in include: iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and copper.

Cacao Almond Granola

Cacao Almond Granola

Granola, as we all know, is a healthy breakfast cereal made up of rolled oats, nuts, and sweetener like sugar or honey.

Adding cacao to it increases its health quotient due to its antioxidant properties and adds a rich dark taste that may be to you liking.

Cacao & Peanut Butter

Cacao & Peanut Butter

Cacao Peanut Butter is rich in proteins and vitamins, making it a healthy option to add to your daily diet.

Cocoa Beans and Peanuts are roasted and made into a Creamy Butter. For sweetness, we add Jaggery. There is no added oil or preservative in our products.

Peanut & Cacao Chikki

Take the classic Indian Peanut Chikki, made from peanuts and jaggery and add nutrient rich cacao to it to make for a dark, rich, nutritious but delicious snack.

It can be eaten alone or with snacks and is a perfect replacement for chocolates and protein bars.

Peanut & Cacao Chikki



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