Due to its high concentration of minerals and antioxidants, cacao has potential health benefits; nevertheless, it should only be ingested in small amounts and in minimally processed forms like raw cacao powder and cacao nibs.
Cacao and cocoa are both part of the chocolate family, but they are not the same thing. Cacao is the raw material used to make chocolate, while cocoa powder is cacao that has been heated and processed. Cacao has more nutrients and antioxidants than cocoa, but it also has more fat and fewer added ingredients like sugar. Cacao has potential health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of blood clots, improving sensitivity to insulin, reducing inflammation, protecting against DNA damage, improving cognitive function, and providing essential minerals. It is important to consume cacao in moderation due to its caffeine and theobromine content. Raw cacao powder and cacao nibs are the most minimally processed forms of cacao and can be purchased at health food stores and supermarkets.