Cacao (Cocoa) Powder – Are They All The Same?

Other than the brand name and the several varieties within each brand name (sweetened v. unsweetened, various flavors like Hershey’s special dark) , I used to think all cacao powders were pretty generic. Hershey’s, Ghiradelli, specific store brands – all appeared on the level to me. I generally pick up whatever is available when I’m running low on stock, and use it mostly to add to smoothies and Greek yogurt.

I grabbed a brand I never heard of and brought it home. It looked cool and had the word “superfood” on the label – great combo, chocolate and superfood 🙂 ). When I took the Hershey’s out to compare, I took a quick glance at the nutrition label (I was expecting around 10 calories and 1g of fat for one tablespoon, just like the others I’ve used), and my eyes were opened to the cacao powder world. For a 2 tablespoon serving, 150 calories and 9g of fat.

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I had to investigate, me being a chocolate connoisseur. So I emailed Sunfood for an explanation:

Good morning,
I just purchased and tried your product for the 1st time in greek yogurt – great!!
Nutrition question – if I look at the label of Hershey’s cacao powder and yours, why are the calories and fat so much higher in your product where both labels ingredients only say 100% powder?
Thank you,
Jonathan Parker

Shortly thereafter, I received a response:

Hi Jonathan,
Thank you for your inquiry. We’re glad you’re enjoying our raw cacao powder and we’re happy to try to answer your question.
The main differences between our cacao powder and Hershey’s is that ours is not Dutch processed (processed with alkali) and ours is kept below a 120 F temperature throughout the process. Because our cacao powder is pressed slowly and with less friction in small batches, I believe that it results in a higher fat content. Essentially, we’re not pressing all the oil out with fast and high pressures that result in higher temperatures. Hershey’s cocoa is first roasted and then Dutch processed, which probably allows more of the cacao butter/oil to eventually be pressed out. Hershey’s also processes extremely large amounts of cocoa with much faster and higher temperature processes. Their resulting cocoa powder is likely lower in fat because of this.
I hope this helps. Please let us know if we can help with any further clarification.
Kind regards

So all cacao/cocoa powders are in fact not created equal. Depending on your daily nutritional goals, using the low heat (minimally) processed cacao powder has many benefits. Here’s just one article I found relating to this:

http://www.examiner.com/article/cacao-butter-and-its-healthy-benefits

I have uses for both powders. When I want a quick shot to reach daily macro and calorie requirements, the lower heat processed cacao powder added to Greek yogurt is a robust 290 calories (or 215 calories if I use only one tablespoon). The cacao powders like Hershey’s added to an already loaded caloric recipe adds flavor without affecting it’s overall nutritional value much.

Variety is the spice of life.

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