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Cacao has been celebrated for centuries, thanks to its various health benefits. Not only does it taste delicious but some are also naturally rich in copper, magnesium, zinc and protein. Cacao can be seen as a more nutritional alternative to chocolate. 

Cacao powder vs cacao nibs

At Holland & Barrett, we have two different forms of cacao available: cacao powder and cacao nibs. 

It is all down to personal choice which one you prefer! Cacao nibs are simply cacao beans which have been fermented, dried and then broken up into pieces. Cacao powder is made from cacao beans, which have been ground into a paste. The cacao butter is removed, leaving behind the dried powder. 

Both are perfect for adding to snacks and as a flavour-rich addition to breakfasts such as granola, overnight oats or porridge.

The benefits of cacao

So what are the main benefits of cacao?

High in protein

One of the major benefits of cacao if that it is a natural plant-based source of protein. This means that when it is added to smoothies or snacks, it gives you an extra protein boost. 

Vegans in particular may find it difficult to get all the protein that they need through their diets alone. This is because a lot of high protein sources include products which come from animals, such as meat and dairy products. Adding cacao to certain foods is a great way to up your protein intake each day.

How to use cacao

Cacao is super versatile as well as delicious. Cacao powder can be sprinkled on top of your morning porridge or overnight oats, to give it a sweet taste for a delicious yet nutritious start to the day. 

Combine cacao powder with dates and agave nectar to make some energy balls – the perfect post-workout snack.

Cacao nibs can be used as a straight swap for chocolate chips in baking recipes. You could also add them to granola for your breakfast or to your post-workout smoothies for an added protein hit.

If you fancy it, you can also eat the nibs straight from the packet!

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Cacao beans come from the Theobroma cacao tree, which produces pod-like fruits. Each of these large fruits contains anywhere between 20 and 60 beans and these are surrounded by a sticky white pulp.


The cacao trees are native to the African Amazon region including countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia and Indonesia.


Cacao is available to buy in powder form or as nibs.

Cacao powder comes from cacao pods from the Theobroma cacao tree. These pods are then cleaned, sorted and shelled to leave cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground into a paste and the butter is removed, leaving raw cacao powder.


Cacao powder has a very rich flavour which is slightly bitter. A little goes a long way too so you will only need a sprinkling to enjoy its intense taste.

Cacao nibs come from the cacao pods which grow on the Theobroma cacao tree. The beans from the pods are dried and then cracked into small pieces to give us the nibs. 


Cacao nibs are small in size – perfect for snacking – and have an intense chocolate-y flavour. They are usually available to buy in both roasted and non-roasted varieties.

Yes, most cacao products are suitable for vegans as they are plant based. 


Please check the ingredients of each product to ensure that they are vegan and that nothing extra has been added.

No, cacao is not just cocoa spelt wrong! 


Cacao and cocoa are not exactly the same but they are very similar. Both come from the Theobroma cacao tree, the beans from the tree providing the basis for both cacao and cocoa. 


The raw or unprocessed products from the beans are usually called cacao and it is usually a more natural product, whereas cocoa is often subject to more processing.


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