Chocolate is a treat that is favored by lots of people into sweets and desserts. Whether in bar form, as ice cream or a piping-hot cup of cocoa, this is an indulgence with a unique flavor that always hits the spot. However, chocolate or cocoa can be loaded with calories and sugar—it’s not referred to as a “sinful dessert” for nothing. If you still want to satisfy your sweet tooth, there is a healthier way to do it—cacao powder has the flavor that you are very familiar with, but is still more wholesome compared to basic commercial cocoa and chocolates. Get to know cacao powders more through this guide.
- What is cacao exactly?
Answer: The cacao or the cocoa tree, has a scientific name called Theobroma cacao and it’s an evergreen tree found in Central and South America. The seeds of the cacao fruit are often processed to produce cacao powder, chocolate, cocoa butter and cocoa solids. The organic and raw beans of the tree retain the health benefits of cacao which are depleted due to processing. Cacao contains high levels of flavonoids, iron, calcium, antioxidants and magnesium that is why many fitness and health enthusiasts are incorporating cacao powders in their diets.
- What are the primary benefits of cacao?
Answer: One of the most well-known benefits of cacao is the fact that it has high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are nutrients which aid in lowering blood pressure, stopping blood clots from forming and enhancing blood circulation to the heart and brain. These flavonoids can also boost sensitivity to insulin for preventing diabetes risks. Cacao powders have plenty of potassium too so it’s good for the heart and it reduces cell stress and body inflammation. Cacao powders also contain fiber which prompts healthier digestion.
- How do you make cacao powders a part of your diet?
Answer: The thing about cacao powders, the factor that makes it different from your standard sweetened cocoa stuff, is that it has a bitter taste. Thus, we recommend that you increase the amount of cacao you take in bit by bit just so your palate can adapt to it. If you want more flavor, you can choose cacao powders with a higher percentage of fat. You can incorporate cacao powders in your diet by putting it on smoothies, making brownies with it instead of regular chocolate/cacao ingredients, using it on baked goods and making raw organic bars of the stuff. Cacao bars can be eaten as is or enjoyed as hot chocolate, with tea or eaten together with your preferred fruit and nuts. If you want to use cacao powders with milk, create a healthier one with almond milk. You can also use cacao powders to flavor snack bars.
Our Top Picks
Anthony’s Organic Raw Cocoa Powder
- Gluten-free cacao powder
- Finely-milled blend
- USDA-certified product
- Unsweetened and non-alkalized
Anthony’s Organic Raw Cocoa Powder is the dark kind so it’s as healthy as it comes—it’s unsweetened, does not contain gluten, batch-tested, non-alkalized and certified organic by the USDA. Yes, this is the real deal and it’s packed to the brim with the goodness of cacao beans like antioxidants, flavonoids and magnesium. Great for wholesome diets from raw, paleo, gluten-free and vegan. Contains 10-12 percent fat too.
E Guittard Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder
- 100% Cacao
- Peanut + Tree Nut Free
- Gluten Free
Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder is a must-have in any kitchen, for professional pastry chefs and home bakers alike. The 100% cacao powder is unsweetened, providing a deep bittersweet flavor, richness, deep-red color, and a robust, fudge-like flavor that is ideal in baked goods such as cakes and pastries. The intense yet subtle Dutched flavor is the perfect complement to enhance any recipe.
Navitas Organics Cacao Powder
- Rich in nutrients
- Certified USDA organic
- Fair Trade product
The Navitas Organics Cacao Powder is made using premium ingredients for high quality and potency. This certified organic USDA cacao powder contains nutrients that aid in lowering blood pressure levels, facilitating digestive and cardiovascular health. It gives lots of magnesium, iron, fiber and antioxidants in the form of flavonoids to keep your body wholesome—700mg of those nutrients per serving, in fact. It’s kosher, gluten-free, vegan and made using Fair Trade practices.
BetterBody Foods Organic Cacao Powder
- Few calories, less fat
- USDA-certified organic
- Kosher product
The BetterBody Foods Organic Cacao Powder has the nutrients you need so instead of indulging in your usual sugary, fatty chocolate desserts, why not give organic, low-calorie and low-fat cacao powders a go? Cacao powders are more wholesome and provide nutrients which promote cardiovascular health and better digestion. It is also packed with flavonoids to prevent body inflammation and stop the onset of many health conditions. It’s organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher to boot.
Healthworks Cacao Powder
- High-quality organic cacao
- Vegan and keto-friendly
- Non-GMO product
- Contains theobromine
The Healthworks Cacao Powder is one potent chocolaty product—if you want to kick your sugar cravings to the curb but cannot give up chocolate, cacao powders are the way to go. You can still enjoy your love for chocolate but cacao has a more solid, deep and intense taste that will further intensify your appreciation for it. Even more, it is packed with nutrients from antioxidants, magnesium to theobromine, a stimulant that is usually found in raw cacao. The product is vegan, keto diet-friendly and non-GMO.
Viva Naturals Certified Organic Cacao Powder
- Rich and deep chocolate taste
- Made from quality Criollo cacao beans
- Contains powerful compounds
- Certified organic, unrefined and non-GMO
The Viva Naturals Certified Organic Cacao Powder is the healthier version of your usual cocoa nabbed from the grocery store—this is an unrefined, organic blend thus it’s dense with nutrients that your body needs from calcium, iron, antioxidants down to magnesium and protein. It is also made from premium, highly-esteemed Criollo cacao beans—it’s not only potent but has a taste that will satisfy gourmet palates. Use it as a cocoa substitute and use it anyway you want, from smoothies, baked products and desserts to savory chocolate dishes.
Kiva Raw Organic Cacao Powder
- 100% organic and raw, dark cacao powder
- Vegan and non-alkalized
- Keto and paleo-friendly
- High in nutrients
The Kiva Raw Organic Cacao Powder is another good choice for a cocoa alternative. It is made from prized Criollo cacao beans from Ecuador—a rare type of cacao that has a highly-esteemed taste and quality. The powder is 100 percent organic, non-alkalized, has no GMO properties and it’s quite friendly to specific diets from vegan, keto to paleo. Contains high levels of antioxidants, magnesium, fiber, iron and omega 6 fatty acids.
We cannot resist the full and comforting taste of chocolate. However, chocolate products are often packed with sugars and fats that are unnecessary to the body. Do not give up your chocolate appreciation just yet—there is a viable, healthier alternative in the form of organic cacao powders.