Cacao - Food of the Gods
Cacao seeds, also known as beans, are the source of the well-loved cacao and cocoa powder used worldwide to make chocolate and other famous desserts. While Cacao powder is processed from dried raw beans, cocoa powder is processed from dried, roasted beans. There is archaeological evidence from Honduras dating back to 1400BC indicating that Cacao beans were processed for consumption as a beverage since that time.1
The botanical name, Theobroma cacao means "Food of the Gods". Considered a highly prized commodity, some ancient civilizations in South America used cacao as currency. Its healthful benefits were highly recognized by the ancient Maya and Aztec civilizations.
Read on to discover why Cacao (or Cocoa) may be the perfect addition to your existing or new product formulation ...
Cacao trees are evergreens that grow to a height of between 12 and 25 feet. Native to the Amazon they thrive in hot, rainy tropical regions.
Cacao trees bear yellow or red, papaya-shaped fruits that grow from their trunk and branches. Their pod-like fruits weigh an average of 400 grams. Encased in the fruit's thick, leathery rind are 30 to 40 Cacao seeds covered by a thick, white pulp. Cacao seeds are slightly soft and have a light lavender to dark brownish purple shade when removed from their pods.
The beans and pulp are left to "sweat" for a prescribed length of time until the thick pulp ferments and turns into liquid. It is the fermentation process which develops the beans' flavor and color. Left to dry, the beans are later processed into Cacao powder or chopped to make Cacao nibs. Cocoa powder comes from the roasted Cacao beans.
Nutrients and Benefits
Cacao and Cocoa, with an appealing aroma and taste, have numerous health benefits which help promote health and overall well-being. As you can see here, the nutritional profile is remarkable.
- Minerals calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, sulfur and manganese. Cacao is considered as one of the best plant sources of magnesium which is vital in energy production and for healthy muscles, brain, nerves, bones and teeth
- Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, and E
- Good levels of polyphenols and flavonoids - powerful antioxidants that support heart and vascular health and help maintain healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels
- Flavonols promote brain health, vascular elasticity and may provide neuro-protective benefits positively impacting learning and memory. The flavonol epicatechin in Cacao has been found to promote skin elasticity and help reduce skin roughness and scaling.
- Several organic compounds stimulate the production of dopamine in the body and potent mood enhancers such as phenylethylamine (PEA) can encourage an overall sense of well-being.
- Xanthine and theophylline may help promote respiratory and pulmonary health by relaxing bronchial spasms.2
NP Nutra® offers 3 premium Cacao Products and 1 Cocoa Product:
- Cacao Powder (organic, unroasted)
- Cacao Nibs Fair Trade (organic, raw)
- Cacao Nibs (organic, raw)
- Cocoa Powder (organic)
All products are Certified Organic, Kosher, Food Grade and produced in an FSSC 22000 certified facility. In addition, they have all been evaluated and approved through our Triple-T Verification® Program.
Cocoa and Cacao Powders are used in a variety of nutraceutical applications such as functional foods (cakes, cookies, snack bars, protein powder blends, cereals, sweet and savory sauces and savory foods like chili) functional beverages (smoothies, hot and cold dairy/dairy free beverages), dietary supplements and some cosmetics. Recent innovative product ideas include cocoa soda and chocolate ravioli.
Cacao Nibs are used in smoothies and smoothie bowls, baked goods, trail mixes, snack bars and cereals. Innovations include pairing different cheeses like goat cheese and brie with cacao nib to make truffles and sweet cacao pizza.
Contact us for a free sample and further product information.