Here's the 411 on Cacao Powder from a Dietitian

January 26, 2021

There is nothing cozier than curling up with an oversized mug of hot cocoa on a chilly winter day. Not only is hot cocoa nostalgic and nourishing for the soul, but the cocoa powder used to make this beloved beverage can be just as  nourishing for the body. We’ve partnered with Registered Dietician, Olivia Wagner (MS, RDN, LDN) to give us the 411 on all things cocoa. 
Raw Cacao vs. Cocoa Powder: What’s the Difference?

To create cocoa powder, processors apply very high temperatures to cacao beans before milling them into a powder, making for a smoother and sweeter cacao. Unfortunately, the higher temperatures contribute to some nutrient loss. Alternatively, raw cacao powder is produced by cold-pressing the cocoa beans creating a slightly bitter taste. Despite a subtle difference in taste, raw cacao powder has nearly double the amount of fiber, iron, magnesium and protein compared to cocoa powder. Plus, it can be used the same way as traditional cocoa powder.

Nutrition of Raw Cacao vs. Cocoa Powder
2.5 tbsp serving:
Raw Cacao 
Cocoa Powder 
60 kcal
18 kcal
1.5 g
1.1 g
10% Daily Value
4.5% Daily Value
5 g
2.7 g 
4 g
1.65 g 
25% Daily Value
10.5 % Daily Value 
Health Benefits of Raw Cacao


Besides its delicious taste, raw cacao powder has a number of health benefits:
  • Anti-inflammatory actions. Raw cacao is naturally rich in plant chemicals called flavanols, antioxidants like resveratrol and nutrients like magnesium, which can have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
  • Happy mood-altering brain chemical. Raw cacao has been found to boost brain levels of endorphins as well as serotonin, which may result in higher levels of happiness.
  • Improves skin radiance. The flavanols found in cacao have also been shown to increase microcirculation of the skin, boosting blood flow and hydration, which improves skin radiance. Here are other foods that can help you reach a natural radiant glow for winter.
  • Supports the Immune system. Some research even shows that cacao may also increase serotonin production in the gut via positive effects on microbiota and as a result, help support the Immune system.
How Do I Use Cacao?


Raw cacao powder and unsweetened cacao nibs are great additions to baked goods, chia pudding, cookies, homemade snack balls, oatmeal bowls, pancakes, smoothies, trail mix and waffles. You can also add a sprinkle of cacao to coffee or matcha. Use it as a topping for that afternoon apple with almond butter or create a sweet slice of avocado toast. 
When grocery shopping, look for dark chocolate with minimally 70% dark chocolate or higher to obtain the most flavanols. Be warned though, as the percentage of cacao solid increases, so does the bitter flavor, so consider balancing out the taste by pairing cacao with coconut, fresh fruit, nut butter or raw nuts. Try using 85% dark chocolate to make chocolate dipped almonds with sea salt, dipped bananas or strawberries or chocolate coconut haystacks. You can even use them as a topping for all of those homemade Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. One of the best ways to enjoy raw cacao powder is using it to create a seasonal favorite - hot cacao! Here is an easy and delicious recipes for Collagen Hot Cacao.
Collagen Hot Cacao
Serves 1
  • 1 tbsp raw almond butter (can also use roasted if you don’t have raw!)
  • 1.5 cups ~ 1 mug of boiled water
  • 1/2 tsp (a splash) of vanilla 
  • 1 tsp local honey or Manuka honey or 1 date (if vegan)
  • 1-2 tbsp raw cacao powder 
  • Pinch of sea salt 
  • 1 scoop grass-fed collagen powder (~2 tbsp) 
Blend all ingredients together until frothy. Top with a sprinkle of raw cacao powder and flaky sea salt for serving. 
If you prefer to eat your chocolate instead, try and build your own dark chocolate bark with this recipe.

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