Did you know all parts of the cacao fruit are edible and healthy – including the shell? While the cacao shell is usually discarded once the cacao beans are harvested to make chocolate, it doesn’t have to be! The cacao shell can be dried and ground down into cacao flour, a naturally gluten-free and antioxidant-rich powder which can be used as a supplement to other types of flours and enriches baked goods or cacao breads. Here’s everything you need to know about where cacao flour comes from and the science behind its numerous nutritional benefits.
While the beans are undoubtedly the most famous part of the whole cacao fruit, there’s a lot more to cacao than just what’s on the inside! Whole cacao is made up of three parts: the beans, the pulp, and the shell. Each one has its own unique uses, but all three parts are rich in the naturally-occurring health benefits of cacao.
Though they may look similar, cacao flour and cocoa powder are definitely not the same! For starters, cocoa powder is made from the beans of the whole cacao fruit, whereas cacao flour is made from the shell. Cocoa powder is also made using a process nearly identical to the actual chocolate-making process, only the cacao butter is removed from the cacao solids to leave behind the cocoa powder. Unlike the cacao beans used to make cocoa powder, the cacao shell is neither fermented nor roasted when making cacao flour; it is simply washed, dried, and ground. Finally, cacao flour is more neutral in flavor than cocoa powder (which has a pronounced bitter taste) and is not water-soluble, which is what makes it a great supplement to other flours.
“Superfood” is a term used to describe food that has above-average health benefits due to high nutrient density. Superfoods are mostly plant-based, and they tend to be rich in things like antioxidants, healthy fats and omega-3s, fiber, and phytochemicals. All of these nutrients are vital to maintaining good physical health and warding off many modern illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While some dieticians and other experts claim that the term “superfood” is largely a term used in marketing, they do agree that consuming high quantities so-called superfoods is an essential part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Yes! Cacao flour is incredibly healthy, because it comes from whole cacao, one of nature’s biggest superfoods. Cacao flour is rich in antioxidants, vital minerals, and soluble and insoluble dietary fiber for microbiome health. The antioxidants in cacao flour help keep your cells healthy, and the electrolytes potassium and magnesium help you remain hydrated, while also keeping your muscles and circulatory and nervous systems in balance. Finally, cacao flour is a great source of dietary fiber, which helps promote good health by maintaining the good bacteria of the gut microbiome.
We just know, as it was for ancient cultures which appreciated this magical plant, that there’s a way to use every part of the whole cacao in a way that is good for you, good for the cacao farming community, and good for the planet. That’s why we’re committed to a whole cacao revolution, and to crafting recipes that live up to the standards of our three-part “trilosophy” of wellness, equity, and sustainability.