Superfood Spotlight: Cacao Butter
by Vickie Chin on Dec 11, 2020
You’re likely familiar with cocoa butter, a popular skin soothing and nourishing ingredient in so many topical skin care products like lotions and creams. You’ve probably even lathered it on without realizing only to be pleasantly surprised by the faint smell of chocolate on your skin. Did you know that you’ve most definitely also eaten it before too? Cocoa butter is found in pretty much all types of chocolate - dark, white and in between. So what is it good for? Is there a difference between Cocoa and Cacao? What else can you do with it? Keep reading to find out!
Cocoa VS Cacao Butter:
Much like the difference between cocoa powder and cacao powder (which you can read all about here if you had no idea there was a difference), the difference between cocoa and cacao butter is both big and small. In terms of usage, they’re interchangeable. The big difference lies in how the food is processed. Cacao butter is pure and cold-pressed while cocoa butter is typically processed under high heat. In order for cacao butter to remain ‘raw’ the oil-pressing process can’t exceed a certain temperature. Ensuring that cold-pressing process doesn’t exceed a certain temperature results in fewer nutrients being lost during the process - which is what happens when cacao powder is cooked and processed into cocoa powder.
Benefits of Cacao Butter:
Even though we refer to it as a ‘butter’ cacao butter doesn’t contain any dairy whatsoever. It’s actually an oil that is extracted from the cacao bean by pressing the beans at a low temperature in order to separate the oil from the protein and the fiber. Cacao beans are seeds from the Theobroma cacao L. plant which are most popularly used to make everyone’s favourite food: chocolate. The cacao plant was once so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that it was used as a form of currency.
Just like other unrefined and non-hydrogenated oils like coconut and avocado, the main benefit of cacao butter comes from it being an excellent source of saturated fats. Saturated fats have gotten a bad rep in the past but we’re seeing more and more how beneficial they can be. Consuming higher amounts of saturated fats has been linked to: reduced risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, stronger bones, liver health, brain function, regulated insulin release and an overall stronger immune system.
However, high amounts of saturated fat isn't the only thing to sing about. Cacao butter also contains polyphenols and flavanols, a class of antioxidants.
Flavanols are a class of antioxidants found in cacao products. They’re amazing for improving vascular function and reducing blood pressure. When you hear people talking about the benefits of dark chocolate, this is what they’re often referring to.
Cacao, and therefore cacao butter, is also known for its ability to increase energy and elevate your mood. This is thanks to phenylethylamine, a compound which acts as a stimulant and mood enhancer. Cacao butter is also a source of serotonin and dopamine, both of which stimulate better moods and give us those feelings of pleasure. Makes sense because eating chocolate does = happiness in most cases.
While cacao butter works to do all of that and more on our insides, it also works wonders on the outside! Cacao butter is a popular ingredient in many topical products like lotions, creams, lip balms, scrubs and more. It can act as a wonderful skin nourishing moisturizer and has been used to treat and prevent dryness and peeling. So while cacao butter works to strengthen and repair you from the inside it can also do the same from the outside.
How To Use Cacao Butter:
These are some of our favourite ways to use our cacao butter, both internally and externally!
Enhance Your Hot Beverages:
Add a piece of cacao butter to your coffee, lattes and elixirs. Not only will this give it a delicious, subtle chocolate flavour but you’ll be getting all of those brain boosting benefits too! Similar to the effects of adding coconut oil or mct oil to your high fat coffee or latte!
Make Homemade Chocolate:
Hands down one of the best uses of cacao butter is to include it in your homemade chocolate bars, barks and even fudge!. Looking to pick up everything you need to make your own homemade chocolate? We’ve got you covered with our DIY Chocolate Bundle. Plus, check out these recipes from our #otlifestylers:
Nourish Your Skin:
Try making your own hydrating lip balm with cacao butter. Check out this recipe for DIY Coconut Pomegranate Lip Balm by The Florestic. You can also try making homemade whipped body butter by melting ¾ cup of cacao butter with ¼ cup of coconut oil and whipping it into a butter until you’ve created a light, fluffy body butter. Check out this recipe by The Little Green Dot that we just loved!