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Cacao Butter Benefits: A Healthy Fat for Keto and Beyond

By Fitoru | 05 July 2019
Cacao butter and bag of cacao

Cacao butter is another way to say cocoa butter, and while most people think of it as a rich skin care product that works great on stretch marks and wrinkles, cacao butter can do so much more. Check out this article to find out what cacao is made of, its top health benefits, and three different ways to eat it.

Cacao butter health benefits and uses.

What Is Cacao Butter?

Raw cacao butter is made from the cacao beans of the Theobroma cacao tree. These are also known as cocoa beans, the same chocolately beans that give you cocoa powder, hot cocoa, and other chocolate products. So if you’re wondering what is cacao butter vs. cocoa butter, now you know…they’re the same thing! Same bean, different spelling, and if there’s any difference between them, products labeled cacao butter usually refer to the raw, cold-pressed vegetable fat, while the cocoa spelling is more often used for processed food products.

From cacao beans you can get cacao butter (cocoa butter), cocoa powder, cacao nibs, and theobroma oil, made from cacao beans the same way olive oil is cold-pressed from olives. When that oil is at room temperature it becomes a solid, just like coconut oil does, and when it’s applied to skin it melts and absorbs like a lotion.

However, eating cacao or cocoa butter can be even more beneficial than smoothing it onto your skin. It’s not only the substance that makes your favorite chocolate bar so rich and creamy, but it’s also a dairy-free and vegan-friendly butter substitute. Read on to discover the multitude of health benefits cacao butter can offer.

The Health Benefits of Cacao Butter

Cacao butter is full of antioxidants and essential fatty acids, making it an excellent healthy fat for those eating a ketogenic diet. With omega-3 and -6 fatty acids in every spoonful, cacao butter is also full of cholesterol-aiding phytosterols, plant compounds that help decrease harmful LDL cholesterol. Here are the health benefits you can gain from adding cacao butter to your diet.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

This 2011 review of studies documents one in which daily cocoa intake lowered the risk of heart disease and premature death in 470 healthy male participants. The more the better, because those who consumed 2.3 grams per day had a 50% improvement in risk factors over those eating 0.36 grams daily.

That review also documents a study from Sweden that found that male participants eating chocolate twice per week were 66% less likely to die of cardiac arrest than those who abstained entirely.

Another massive study of over 30,000 adult and elderly women found that those who regularly consumed chocolate had fewer hospitalizations and improved heart health. That means chocolate can be administered as medicine, all thanks to the health content of cacao butter.

Anti-Inflammatory Abilities

The flavonoids found in cacao butter have antioxidants so powerful they can make a positive impact on your health within 2-6 hours. White chocolate, dark chocolate, and even milk chocolate depending on the concentration of cacao butter can bring these benefits, though not necessarily commercial candy. 

Make a delicious fat bomb out of your cacao butter and you can get all of the benefits and none of the sugar, keeping you fit and in keto condition. Check out these 32 fat bomb recipes and choose your favorite!

Reduced Risk of Diabetes, Stroke, and Heart Attack

This 2009 study on Japanese participants found that those who ate chocolate regularly had a 35% decrease in diabetes risk. This more recent study from 2014 found that filtered coffee, green and black tea, and cocoa all help reduce instances of stroke. Another study of more than 19,000 men and women over an 8-year period showed that those who consumed the most chocolate lowered their risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction) by 39%.

3 Ways to Consume More Cacao

If you like the above-listed health benefits, you’ll want to consume cacao butter in its purest form, not the minimal content of store-bought candies and chocolates. Here’s how!

Cacao butter health benefits and uses.

1. Make a Cacao Butter Fat Bomb

While a “fat bomb” sounds like a disaster, when you use healthy fats and no sugar, it’s actually a great way to consume omega-3 fatty acids and other valuable nutrients. For those eating a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet like keto, fat bombs are a fun and tasty way to make sure you meet your macronutrients ratio of calories from fat instead of carbs. 

This recipe by Katrin at Sugar Free Londoner is a great way to showcase how to make a delicious fat bomb using cacao butter and nibs. To make her Cacao Nut Butter Fat Bombs, all you need are the following ingredients and to follow the instructions (just click the link above!).

  • Coconut oil
  • Heavy cream
  • Unsweetened cacao powder 
  • Unsweetened nut butter (like almond butter)
  • Stevia or your preferred sweetener of choice
  • Cinnamon
  • Cacao nibs or chopped nuts to top them off

This homemade chocolate creation is way better for your health than any chocolate bar you can buy from the candy aisle at your grocery store, plus with zero-to-no carbs in fat bombs, they won’t put a hard spike to your blood sugar levels.

2. Make a Cacao Powder Smoothie

This fabulous recipe for a Frozen Banana & Cacao Smoothie by Elizabeth Rider from Elizabeth Eats combines the following ingredients: 

  • Purified water
  • Frozen banana
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Almond butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Ice
  • Organic chocolate or vanilla protein powder (if it’s for a post-workout smoothie)

Get all the deliciousness of chocolate flavors with zero guilt: this smoothie will boost your health and your energy levels.

3. Cook with Cacao

Organic cacao butter can be used for cooking, as can cacao oil (aka theobroma oil). Coconut and cacao oils/butters bring a slightly sweeter flavor to everything from dairy-free ice creams (like this Real-Deal Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream from Erin at Meaningful Eats) to velvety-good chocolate cookies (as seen with this Cocoa Butter Cookies With Chocolate Chips recipe from Stella Parks at Serious Eats). Make your own holiday candies with our Keto Peanut Butter Chocolates with these simple ingredients:

  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sweetener

Raw cocoa butter, cacao powder, and cacao nibs can find their ways into your food and onto your plate, all while helping your baked goods stay gluten-free.

You Butter Believe It

Now that you’ve seen what cacao butter can do for you and your taste buds, you may want to add it to your shopping list. If you purchase raw cacao butter, make sure to keep it in a cool, dry place so it can safely live out its natural shelf life of 2 to 3 years. Make sure you buy certified organic, fair trade, non-GMO products so you know that you’re doing good while eating good, and enjoy the various uses of cacao butter in your life!

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