If you’re an avid baker or just someone who enjoys consuming baked goods (no judgment – we are, too) then you’ve certainly encountered cocoa powder in some form or another. But what is cocoa powder, exactly? And does unsweetened cocoa powder have the same health benefits as other cacao products? We’ve got the answers to all of your cacao-related questions,
including cocoa powder’s health benefits and how you can begin to enjoy more of this “food of the gods.”
The true history of cocoa powder begins with Theobroma cacao, a tree indigenous to South and Central America that produces cacao fruit, the beans of which eventually became the chocolate we know and love today. But long before there was chocolate, there was xocolatl – the ancient Nahuatl word used to describe the “bitter water” that the Aztec and Maya used to make from the beans of the cacao fruit and drink during ritual occasions.
Did someone say superfood? Many of the typical health benefits of cacao can also be found in unsweetened cocoa powder. Among cocoa powder’s health benefits are antioxidants and flavonols that have been shown to benefit our cardiovascular system and reduce inflammation. Cocoa powder is also rich in both magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium, as well as the compound theobromine, which has numerous health benefits.
Pure cocoa powder is exactly what it sounds like. It is the end result of the powdering process, with no added sugar or flavors added. Pure cocoa powder is usually not used to make hot chocolate, simply because it is not already sweetened and would taste much more bitter than most people would expect from hot chocolate. However, more and more people today are trending towards using the “real” thing both due to its authentic cocoa flavor as well as its abundance of health benefits.