Friday, June 29, 2012

Raw Cocoa Powder vs Dark Chocolate - A Comparison of Nutritional Value

100% Pure Cocoa - No Artificial Flavors or Colors 
A few years ago I gave up milk chocolate for dark chocolate. A few of months ago I gave up dark chocolate for raw cocoa. The health nuts are probably aware of the benefits that are touted regarding dark chocolate, but why bother with dark chocolate when you can get all the benefits in cocoa. After all, all dark chocolate is - or for that matter any chocolate - is a mixture of sugar, cocoa butter, and cocoa solids. Along the processing train much of the nutritional value of the cocoa is masked and instead replaced with fats and sugar.

The benefit of dark chocolate is that it is touted as being chalk full of anti-oxidants. That's great, but it is nothing when compared to raw cocoa. For those that are unaware, the USDA tested a list of common foods and assigned each an ORAC value. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and essentially tries to quantify exactly how potent various foods are when it comes to binding those nasty free radicals. The following are the respective ORAC values:

Milk Chocolate: 1,263
Dark Chocolate: 5,903
Cocoa: 80,933

Nothing in the *Cocoa* section is Cocoa #SocietyFail
Now I found it ironic that I was shopping at Wal-Mart the other day and they have an actual tag in their aisle for "cocoa", but nothing in that section is anything but glorified high-fructose corn syrup. You can find real cocoa in the baking section and you can get an 8oz container at Wal-Mart for between $2.25 - $2.50. 

Cocoa can be added to all kinds of recipes and daily foods, but I consume all my cocoa simply by adding 2 tablespoons per bowl of oatmeal, and 2-4 tablespoons to whey protein shakes. I will also make chocolate banana smoothies by blending some bananas, water, ice, and a ton of cocoa. Lastly I make Greek Yogurt pudding with chia seeds, cinnamon, and of course, cocoa.

We are still in the infancy of science when it comes to food, but I'll choose raw cocoa over chocolate any day of the week. Over time cocoa has satisfied my craving for chocolate without all the unnecessary calories from sugar and fats, and with all the healthy properties of chocolate.


  1. This is a great article/post. I was going through the same transition from dark chocolate to powder, and searching for some science on it, and found this. Thanks. Also, cocoa is a pretty potent stimulant.

  2. Tyler, it was one year ago today that I started on Cocoa. I decided to add it to my regular Oatmeal on VDAY 2012 and the rest was history. Enjoy the cocoa.


    1. When I was growing up the older folks made a cocoa stick. I don't know how they made it but I am assuming that it didn't have any additives, because we used to boil it and then add spices and sugar and milk to make hot cocoa. I started using the cocoa powder a few years ago vs using the cocoa mix which has a lot of additives .

  3. Yay, glad I found this. Answered my question, thank you.

  4. Hello Thomas!
    i am living in swiss, so i am not sure i can get RAW things easily. usually people`s reaction are surprising, and i dont find what i want.
    where could i get raw cocoa? you said that `you can find cocoa in baking section`, but that wouldnt be RAW, isnt it?
    thank you in advance. MolinĂ 

  5. Well technically the cocoa I eat isn't the RAWest it could be, it is still processed to some degree, but to answer your question, you should have something similar in the baking section of your food stores. Where things like Chocolate chips, vanilla, etc are. Truthfully, I never been to Switzerland so I'm not sure what the layout of the stores is, but in the US almost all stores are arranged in a similar way.

  6. I read that regular supermarket baking cocoa powder isn't raw. Only when the box specifically mentions "raw" then it is and you get the complete micronutrients benefits. In the Netherlands I buy raw cocoa in health food stores in the aisle with the superfoods like goji berries and spirulina. I find the taste of raw cocoa much richer and less bitter than the supermarket stuff but it also is four times more expensive. Still worth it!

    1. Anonymous, you really can't buy raw cocoa at all. All cocoa is processed if you understand the process of generating the bean into chocolate liquor and then splitting it up between cocoa butter and cocoa. For the sake of this blog when I say raw, I mean that it hasn't been alkalized. Yes if you live somewhere where you have access to the raw bean (directly from the plant) then yes you may able to make it truly raw. And when you buy nibs themselves they have most likely still been roasted.

  7. What if you mixed the cocoa powder in organic coconut oil, added stevia and froze it as chocolate bites?