Cacao vs. Cocoa: What’s the Difference?

We have all seen, heard or read something about cacao being a superfood laden with health benefits. But, what’s the difference between cacao beans, and cocoa? Are they all beneficial to you? The answer is no, not all forms of cacao are created equal. Here’s why.

Raw Cacao Bean

Cacao trees are native to South America and can be dated back to 1400 BC, though today, 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in West Africa. Cold-pressing unroasted beans that have not been processed or heated make raw cacao; this is the form doctors are talking about when boasting the health benefits of ‘chocolate’.

Raw cacao beans stands out on top because the beans have not been heated at high temperatures like cocoa and chocolate.1 The longer a cacao bean is heated, the less vitamins, antioxidants and minerals are retained. When choosing dark chocolate, the higher percentage of cacao in the bar, the more bitter the chocolate will taste. To retain the most health benefits, the chocolate should be at least 70% cacao with the lowest amount of processed anything.

As for the boasting, well, there is no boasting about it; if you can handle the sharp bitter taste of pure raw cacao beans, get ready for quite the nutritional cocktail.

The health benefits of raw cacao are as follows:

  • Neutralizes free radicals with high amounts of antioxidants
  • Fiber content aids in digestion
  • Contains Vitamin E & B complex
  • Iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium & copper
  • Boosts endorphins & serotonin promoting a sense of well-being2
  • Improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure3

Suavva smoothies contain the same health benefits of raw cacao beans, but without the bitter taste. This is because Suavva is created using the cacao pulp, which has the same antioxidant benefits as cacao beans, but with a much sweeter and delicious taste.


Cocoa’s health benefits range depending on how long the beans have been roasted and if they have undergone Dutch processing; which means treated with alkali to neutralize acidity. Most cocoa you find today has been over-processed – there is very little left to benefit your health.
Eating or drinking unsweetened dark cocoa that has been minimally processed with at least 70% cocoa, does offer those bountiful flavanols proven to lower blood pressure and bad LDL cholesterol, while raising levels of good HDL cholesterol. So next time instead of having a cup of joe in the morning, indulge in a rich cup of dark hot cocoa and make your heart just a little happier.


Applegate (the brand) previously tweeted, “since chocolate comes from cocoa which grows on a tree, that makes it a plant… Chocolate is salad!” This is comical, but unfortunately not the case.

As with cocoa, most chocolate available on the market today is overly processed, treated with alkali and loaded with fat and sugar. This type of chocolate may taste yummier, but most of what it offers is only empty calories. Plus, chocolate and dairy does not mix, the proteins (caseins) found in milk negate any of the positive antioxidant benefits found in cocoa.4 What a bummer!

The moral of the story, the purer the chocolate the healthier it is. Eat smart.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

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