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Health Benefits of Raw Cacao vs Cocoa Powder

Raw cacao and cocoa powder have very similar culinary uses, but they are very different! I prefer the former and that's what I use in my recipes.
Jul 5, 2014 | Joy McCarthy

I've made my Black Bean Brownies from Joyous Health three times in the last week if you can believe it! Once for the CHCH Morning Live segment and the other two times were for potluck dinner parties. Of course the main ingredient I used was raw cacao.

I love raw cacao because it's incredibly flavourful, versatile and nutrient-dense. I've shared 5 of my favourite raw cacao recipes below!

Many people ask me "what is the difference between raw cacao and cocoa"? Here's a video and friendly chart I created to help clear it up!

Here's the chart!

You can also find it on my instagram and facebook page. 

Some of my favourite recipes with raw cacao can be found here on Joyous Health or in my book:

  • Strawberry Almond Butter Chocolate Cups. Recipe here.
  • Raspberry Chocolate Hemp Squares. A special recipe from Chef Doug McNish! Recipe here.
  • Ma McCarthy's Quinoa Chocolate Cake. Moist and divinely delicious. Recipe here.
  • Raw Chocolate Banana Goji Brownie. Recipe here.
  • Sexy Maca Balls. A joyous reader favourite! Recipe here. A variation of this popular recipe is also in my book Joyous Health. And "Round 2" of this recipe can be found here.

What's your favourite way to use raw cacao? Share below.

Have a joyous day!


Jul 5, 2014 BY Joy McCarthy
lori   •   July 26, 2014

I love cacao in my smoothies mixed with greens and berries and I really do find it to be a mood booster! I also love making it in a granola that I wrote about here: Great chart and a great one to pin!


Janet Allen   •   August 25, 2014

I've read a lot of reviews that are saying it's not good for your heart, what is your take on if it's harmful?

Kate McDonald-Walker   •   August 26, 2014

Jacqueline   •   January 3, 2015

So in recipes, cam we substitute raw cacao for cocoa, for example in baking? Same measurement? Thanks!

Joy McCarthy   •   January 3, 2015

ana carol   •   July 9, 2015

Hi! Just found the blog and cant stop reading! didn't know about cocoa x cacao and i love it. I share it on my blog too. Tks to share and for all the inspiration! Cheers!

Joy McCarthy   •   July 9, 2015

Becki   •   May 5, 2016

You didn't really answer your own question. What is the difference between cacao and cocoa powder? For example. Hershey's cocoa powder is 100% pure cocoa. I've watched cacao being processed in a home here in Panama. It is necessary to roast the beans before grinding them. So how is supposedly raw cacao not processed? I'm confused and really searching for answers. Thanks.

Heather Allen   •   May 5, 2016

Mike   •   August 13, 2016

Raw cacao should not be consumed. Only roasted or cooked cacao is safe to eat. This article may confuse people into eating RAW cacao. I'm guessing you used roasted cacao and not raw. Calling roasted cacao Raw is confusing because once it has been roasted it is technically not raw anymore.

Heather Allen   •   August 15, 2016

Barbara DeBets   •   October 9, 2016

I like pudding :)


Allison   •   January 29, 2017

Hello, can you recommend a high quality brand to buy for cacao nibs? My local store doesn't have them so I have to buy online and I'm not sure what is the best brand to go with. Thank you.

Rachel   •   February 2, 2017

Danielle   •   February 16, 2017

Hi joy! Where do you buy your raw cacao? I live in a small town and would love to order it online if possible. Thanks!

Rachel   •   February 16, 2017

Michelle   •   May 5, 2017

I am confused. Raw or not raw. Mike above says not to eat raw but the 2 brands you recommend are both raw cacao. So are these two brands roasted at lower temperatures like said by Heather from the Joyous team and safe to eat? I guess there is another raw version?

Rachel Molenda   •   May 9, 2017

Punyasloka Parida   •   April 10, 2019

Can I add a spoon or two to a glass of hot water and drink it?

Joy McCarthy   •   April 10, 2019

Khushbu   •   July 10, 2020

Which raw cacao brands are good?

Joy McCarthy   •   July 13, 2020

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