Here at Heavy 2 Healthy, we often get asked if Cocoa Powder is Paleo? We have already discussed the benefits of dark chocolate and how this can be included into the paleo diet as long as its consumed in moderation. But what about Cocoa Powder?
All chocolate is made from the cacao bean. People tend to get very confused between cacao and cocoa. This is understandable as they are spelt very similar and are pronounced in almost the exactly the same way! While they are both made from the cacao beans, cacao is referring to the raw and minimally processed form of the cocao bean and cocoa is the processed form of the cacao bean. So that its clear, cocoa powder is the part of the cocoa bean that is left over after the cocoa butter has been removed.
Everyone knows that chocolate contains cocoa powder but due to the highly processed nature of chocolate, it is strictly not allowed on the paleo diet except for high purity forms of dark chocolate in moderation. But what about cocoa powder on its own? Although cocoa powder has been processed, it has gone through a very minimal process to turn it into cocoa powder. Cocoa powder only contains one ingredient – pulverised cacao beans.
Is Cocoa Powder Paleo?
Yes! Absolutely! Cocoa powder is very nutritious and can be enjoyed with a wide range of paleo dishes. Although it is high in carbohydrates, it has a respectable amount of fat and protein. There are no vitamins present but it comes full of minerals including iron, magnesium and manganese. Cacao power also contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant which has been linked to a reduction of heart disease and stroke.
The key is to find the right kind of cocoa power that fits in as closely as possible with the paleo diet plan.
Cocoa Power, what to buy?
Cocoa powder is a very popular product and can be found in many grocery stores, health stores and online. To ensure that you buy paleo friendly cocoa powder, make sure it is unsweetened and non-alkaline. This means that is has not been processed with alkali and not dutch processed. This is natural cocoa powder and is naturally acidic and bitter tasting. To decrease the bitterness of natural cocoa powder, manufactures add alkaline chemicals in a process known as dutch processing. Dutch cocoa powder contains far less antioxidants than non-alkalized cocoa powder so definitely avoid this.
Many brands are sweetened with artificial sweeteners so make sure you select a brand of unsweetened cocoa powder. Some cocoa powder grains, gluten, dairy and soy which are all non-paleo ingredients.
So go ahead and enjoy cocoa powder but make sure it is 100% organic, natural cocoa powder.