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When the weather gets cold, there’s nothing better than settling down with a hot drink. As it so happens, hot chocolate has become a staple of the winter season because children and adults can enjoy it. Unfortunately, chocolate isn’t the healthiest for you—at least, not in the way we know it. Here’s why you should swap cocoa with cacao powder.
Cacao vs. Cocoa Powder – No Extra Additives
Cacao and cocoa are technically the same things, hailing from the same bean on the same plant, but “cacao” refers to the “raw” version of cocoa. Typically, you roast cocoa at a higher temperature, adding items like sugar to give it the sweetness that many adore. Cacao doesn’t have those additives, and you roast it at much lower temperatures. This preserves the health benefits within the cacao, giving your hot chocolate more of a dark chocolate taste. It’s a little bitter but still as delicious as traditional cocoa.
If you are interested in growing your own cacao plants, you’re in luck. We wrote an article that will walk you through all the steps needed to have cacao plants right at your fingertips.
Cacao Powder is Rich in Antioxidants
As we mentioned, cacao has health benefits typically removed by the higher roasting temperatures of cocoa. Namely, cacao is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are an important chemical that balances out your body’s free radicals, which are responsible for cell death and aging. They will aid in your skin and cell health while boosting your immune system—something extra important as we make it through flu season. For this alone, it’s more than worth considering why you should swap cocoa with cacao powder.
Energy Without Caffeine
Finally, recipes like vegan chai hot chocolate are a great alternative for people trying to cut back on caffeine. Cacao contains theobromine—a natural and gentler ingredient that helps you feel energized and alert without the risk of forming an unhealthy attachment. Furthermore, theobromine doesn’t cause any of the withdrawal or side effects that caffeine would, like headaches or an energy crash later in the day.
In addition to helping you feel energized, cacao hot chocolate is still hot chocolate and will help boost your mood. Like with all enjoyable foods, your brain will release endorphins to help you feel happy and relaxed.