Raw Cacao vs Dark Chocolate

The number one antioxidant food in the world is Raw Cacao.


Please note this is not the same as raw cocoa found in the grocery store which is heat treated and processed like Hershey’s cocoa powder.


I was speaking with a client last week and she explained how she had an allergy to chocolate and just couldn’t have it. So, I suggested raw cacao because she also couldn’t have added sugar and if it were me, that would be what I would try. I realized that there may be some confusion around the difference between the two.


SO, I am here to shine the light on the difference nutritionally.


“Raw Chocolate – the unrefined fruit of the cacao tree, without added sugar, milk or vegetable fat – is nutritionally superior to even the highest quality dark chocolate. This is because it isn’t roasted, but minimally processed at low temperatures” -The Economist


Now don’t get me wrong, I promote dark chocolate as it is a fabulous tool for those of us who have struggled with sugar addictions and well…life is just too short to not have dark chocolate.


But again, it is a tool. One to help you move away from the junk addicting forms of sugar and into foods with healthier forms of sugar. In other words, moving from cane sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup for example to maple syrup or even raw honey.


Truth be known, one big difference between the two is the price. Most of us won’t find raw cacao in your local grocery. The process alone would dictate that the way it is best sold is by those that are experts in that field. Two of my favorite companies are Radiantly Raw here in Colorado Springs, and French Broad Chocolates in Asheville NC.


While both chocolates offer plenty of minerals and antioxidants, such as iron and magnesium, they’re unique in nutrients, taste, and ingredients.


Here are some quick benefits of Raw Cacao:


  1. Rich in Flavonoids: lower blood pressure, protect your heart against toxins, improve your circulation.
  2. Improve your overall health: improve your mood, increases endurance and physical strength, increase energy, and sex drive because of phenylethylamine, the love chemical, and a well-known aphrodisiac. Whoop!
  3. Boost hormone functioning: contains several natural chemical compounds to help improve your concentration, stimulates secretion of endorphins, boosts the bliss hormone anandamide for pleasure.
  4. Suppress appetite…YES! Think…kill sugar cravings for good:)


Now let’s look at the difference between dark chocolate and chocolate from raw cacao. There is a reason these little chocolate shops are popping up all over and why they are being touted as a superfood.


The big difference is the way these two foods are processed. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder (not the same as cacao powder, see the spelling) are both processed and heat treated.


This process will kill the naturally occurring enzymes and nutrients found in raw cacao which is one of the features that makes it a superfood. 


Difference between raw cacao and dark chocolate (and raw cocoa): 


  1. No added sugars: Dark chocolate usually has added sugars (read the label) and milks so typically not dairy free. Whereas raw chocolates have usually cacao butter or coconut oil as emulsifiers which have a heaping of health benefits on their own…big win!
  2. No milk or dairy, most of the time. Read the label to be sure. Both butter and milk are present in most dark chocolate bars as emulsifiers
  3. More antioxidants: raw cacao has the most magnesium, iron, Vitamin B, and zinc content per serving, out of all foods. Period! These antioxidants are processed out in most dark chocolate products. Raw chocolate even has twice the amount of antioxidants than raw cocoa powder we typically see at the grocery store…because again this is heated.
  4. Caffeine free: dark chocolate is high in caffeine while raw chocolate has no caffeine
  5. Different glycemic index: because dark chocolate has added sugar it has a higher glycemic index than raw chocolate.
  6. No mycotoxins: Mycotoxins is a form of unfriendly fungus found on fermented foods like mushrooms, peanuts, coffee, and even dark chocolate. Raw chocolate prevents mycotoxins thru a special process as the cacao beans are immediately preserved without heating after harvesting. Mycotoxins have been associated with overgrowth of yeast in the gut, sugar cravings, and a weakened immune system.


Note…Although cocoa powder is rich in taste and flavor because it has been heated and processed it has lower vitamins and antioxidants than raw cacao powder. Raw cacao powder you will find labeled as a super food at your local health market and is great for smoothies. It has higher nutritional value than dark chocolate, but it is still heat treated and not quite as nutritionally dense as raw chocolate.  

How to buy?


Treat yourself to a raw chocolate from a local shop near you and you will taste the difference! This is the best choice. Next best, if you want to put something in your smoothies, enjoy raw cacao powder as it still has more nutritional benefits than dark chocolate. Last but not least…enjoy dark chocolate in moderation and just understand the difference so you can uplevel when you can and moderate when you need to. You can also buy 100% unsweetened chocolate bars for baking at your local grocery store because this is 100% cacao dark chocolate.


If you learned a ton here…hop on over and grab my 3 Day Cleanse and get 3 days worth of delicious recipes to help you detox without feeling deprived. It’s my gift to you…enjoy!


Love to hear your thoughts! Post here…



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