Some of you might believe that cocoa and cacao are the same thing, but that’s definitely not the case. Here’s the deal: if your chocolate bar is made with cacao, you’re about to dive into a true antioxidant-rich superfood. However, if it’s made with cocoa, you’re not getting nearly the amount of health benefits you would with the cacao-derived treat.
The big difference lies in the processing of the cacao bean. If the bean is high-heat roasted, then you have cocoa, NOT cacao. Cacao is never roasted, but kept in its raw state, then cold-pressed to extract its healthy goodness and preserve its nutrients. In addition, the intense dark brown color of cacao is quite distinctive from its much lighter cousin, cocoa.
Another reason why cocoa-based products get a poor nutritional score is because the big chocolate manufacturers throw in substances like soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, and vegetable oil. Candy bars are notorious for this, and as a result they should be avoided like the plague. Your best bet is dark chocolate, because it has a high cacao content. The higher the cacao percentage, the healthier it is. Make sure you look for CACAO and not cocoa on the wrapper!