cacao butter

Fact-checked by Dr. Anthony Gustin, DC, MS.

Written by Devan Ciccarelli

What exactly is cacao butter?

Is it just a misspelling of cocoa butter, or are they two different things?

As it turns out, cocoa butter and cacao butter are one and the same.

But if you only know cocoa butter as an ingredient in popular skin care products promising to combat wrinkles and stretch marks, you don’t even know the best of what cacao butter has to offer.

The incredible health benefits associated with cacao butter are quickly turning it into one of the healthiest fats on a low carb diet like keto.

So catch up to speed with this guide as it covers:

Despite its name, most people are still unsure of where cacao butter comes from and what makes it so healthy. So let’s clear this up first.

What is Cacao Butter Anyway?

In its original form, raw cacao butter comes from cacao beans which grow on the Theobroma cacao tree. These cocoa beans are the same that produce chocolate and cocoa powder.

To get cacao butter, cacao beans are cold pressed to extract the oil similar to olives. Instead of olive oil, however, you get theobroma oil.

At room temperature, this oil solidifies just like coconut oil. But when it’s applied to your skin, the cacao butter melts like a lotion and quickly dissolves into your pores for instant hydration and moisture.

But cacao butter, or cocoa butter, can be also be eaten to reap its many health benefits.

Cacao butter is most frequently used to make chocolate, as it’s the creamy, fatty emulsifier to blend cacao nibs with milk solids and sugar.

While cacao butter does have hints of chocolate in flavor, the texture is more like coconut butter and coconut oil combined.

Cacao butter is typically used as a dairy-free substitute for grass-fed butter.

You can add cacao butter to recipes, including dairy free and vegan ones, or use it to make healthier chocolate bars and other on-the-go keto treats, as you’ll see later.

But before we get to all of those, you have to see why cacao butter is worth including in your healthy keto lifestyle first.

The Top Health Benefits of Cacao Butter &Why It’s Great on Keto

Another similarity cacao butter shares with olive oil is that it’s packed with both essential fatty acids and antioxidants.

Looking at the nutrition facts for just a tablespoon of raw cacao butter, you’ll see the following healthy fats[*]:

  • 14g of total fat
  • 8.1g of saturated fat
  • 4.5g of monounsaturated fat
  • 0.4g of polyunsaturated fat

There’s also both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in each tablespoon too[*]:

These healthy fats don’t come with a side of carbs or hidden sugars, either, which is why cacao butter is amazing on a ketogenic diet — it’s essentially a fat bomb all on its own.

On top of that, each tablespoon of cacao butter also provides 27.1mg of phytosterols, which are plant compounds that deliver their own protective health benefits[*].

Phytosterols have been shown to decrease harmful LDL cholesterol levels in patients who only consumed just 2g per day, a fraction of what you’ll get in a tablespoon of cacao butter[*].

And that’s just the beginning of the good news.

You’ll also score the following health benefits by adding this plant-based fat to your weekly meal plans:

#1: Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Death

Cacao butter may improve your overall heart health.

In a study of 470 Dutch men who didn’t have preexisting cardiovascular disease or diabetes, daily cocoa intake significantly lowered their chance of premature death and heart disease[*].

They also found those who consumed a higher amount of the cocoa, 2.3g per day compared to 0.36g, also had 50% lower risk factors for heart disease than those who didn’t eat as much.

Another study in Sweden found that patients who ate chocolate two times a week or more were 66% less likely to die from cardiac arrest compared to people who never ate it[*].

A similar finding surfaced in a study conducted on heart failure and chocolate consumption in elderly and middle-aged women.

Over 31,000 women were studied over a nine-year period to see what happened when women consumed chocolate one to three times per month, ate one to two servings per week, or never at all[*].

This study showed those who ate chocolate had decreased rates of heart failure death and hospitalizations and even improved their heart health.

The results also demonstrated a slight decrease in heart disease risk in patients who consumed three to six servings each week, or at least one serving per day.

Scientists from a Japanese study also learned chocolate was helpful for patients’ overall health outcomes.

#2: Reduce Diabetes & Stroke Risk

This time, study participants consumed tiny pieces of chocolate once per week and researchers then compared this to a control group of participants who never ate any.

Researchers discovered a 35% decrease in diabetes in men who ate the chocolate weekly[*].

Another study found a similar decrease in stroke risk this time.

When 19,357 men and women were studied over the course of eight years, scientists realized people who ate the most chocolate lowered their risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) by a whopping 39%[*].

Inflammation is thought to contribute to poor heart health. But since cacao butter is also loaded with flavanols, it may be able to combat this issue too.

#3: Decreased Inflammation

One body of research that reviewed several studies on cocoa found that the flavonoids — or phytonutrients with antioxidative effects — inside this powerful bean lowered inflammatory biomarkers in as little as two to six hours[*].

That same review examined a study that specifically found these anti-inflammatory effects were more prominent in healthy individuals as opposed to those with previous inflammation and vascular issues.

The positive results also depended on the type of cocoa being used since not every type contains the same amount of beneficial flavanols.

You can find cacao butter in dark chocolate, white chocolate, and even milk chocolate given the right recipe.

But you can’t just eat a Snickers and call it a day here.

So what is the best way to sneak cacao butter into your keto lifestyle?

Should you eat it out of a jar like almond butter?

While you technically could, you definitely wouldn’t want to unless you also enjoy eating spoonfuls of coconut oil.

Instead, try any one of these options for adding cacao butter to your weekly meal planning and take advantage of all these health benefits the easy (and delicious!) way.

The Best Ways to Consume Cacao Butter

If you want the positive health benefits of cacao butter, you can’t just settle for store-bought chocolate bars also loaded with sugar, chemical ingredients, and tiny amounts of real cacao (if any).

To add cacao butter to your diet without wrecking your hard work:

#1: Use Raw Cacao Butter to Make Your Own Keto Chocolate Bars, Smoothies, and Fat Bombs

You’re better off making your own homemade keto chocolate bar packed with cacao butter, MCT oil, unsweetened cacao powder, and maca powder than buying almost any other candy in the world.

Your homemade chocolate creations will have way more antioxidants, healthy fats to keep you feeling energized, and superfood-worthy ingredients to satisfy your sweet taste buds without kicking you out of ketosis.

Plus, with only 1g of net carbs, you won’t experience a crazy sugar spike like you would with normal high-carb chocolate bars.

And this low-carb chocolate only takes five minutes to make, which means you can satisfy your cravings anytime.

After you master the art of keto chocolate bars, step up your candy game and use your raw cacao butter and raw cacao powder to create another indulgent chocolate treat: keto peanut butter cups.

Or add cacao butter to your keto smoothies and keto coffee recipes in place of grass-fed butter.

This low-carb pumpkin spice fat bomb ice cream recipe also calls for cacao butter to switch things up when you’re bored of chocolate.

But you can even use cacao butter to flavor your homemade nut butter.

#2: Add Organic Cacao Butter to Your Homemade Nut Butter Recipe

To create a white chocolate flavored nut butter that doesn’t contain any sugar or harmful flavor additives, and is also dairy-free and vegan, try this keto love butter recipe.

In it, you’ll find toasted coconut, roasted hazelnuts, and melted cacao butter to give you that creamy white chocolate taste and extra healthy fats without dumping sugar or fake ingredients into the mix.

And if you don’t feel like making either of these options, or you just don’t have time, reach for healthy snacks with cacao butter in the ingredients list, like this next one.

#3: Perfect Keto Bars

Rather than dealing with raw cacao butter and spending time in the kitchen making one of those previous options, you can grab an Almond Butter Brownie Keto Bar preloaded with healthy, keto-safe ingredients.

Available online, each bar is only 3g of net carbs, 10g of protein, and 19g of fat — 5g of which are healthy saturated fats.

These bars don’t contain any hidden carbs, sugars, or artificial ingredients like fake chocolate flavors or chocolate liquors.

So you can add the health benefits of cacao butter, almonds, and cocoa powder to your diet without much effort.
These nutrient dense ingredients are what’s responsible for those filling macros.

To get those, we use a healthy mix of almond and cacao butter, coconut oil, collagen, and a touch of stevia and sea salt to keep our bars flavorful and satiating.

Plus, since they’re a low-carb portable snack option, you can grab one:

  • In place of breakfast when you’re on-the-go
  • During your afternoon lull, in between soccer practice, or after lunch at the office
  • As a pre-workout or post-workout snack
  • After dinner to combat sweet cravings
  • Or stash it in your travel bag so you always have a keto-friendly snack on hand

This gives you all the health benefits of raw cocoa butter, along with other good-for-you ingredients, without having to source and make your own recipes.

Include Cacao Butter In Your Life Today

Now that you know more about cacao butter, including what it’s made from, its health benefits, and the best ways to include it into your keto diet, you can start adding it to your weekly keto meal plans today.

The easiest way is to reach for an on-the-go, low-carb snack that takes the guesswork and leg work out of cacao butter, like our Almond Butter Brownie Keto Bars.

And if you’re feeling more ambitious, you can choose to make any of the other recipes listed in this guide.

If you do decide to purchase raw cacao butter, be sure to store it in a cool, dry place. Cacao butter generally has a shelf life of two to three years if it hasn’t been exposed to heat or wet conditions.

And as a friendly reminder, write the date you opened your cacao butter on the package so you know when to toss it.

By adding more cacao butter to your low carb life, you’ll quickly reap the positive health benefits associated with this superfood and make it one of your regular staples in no time.

To try cacao butter out for yourself, give our Almond Butter Brownie Keto Bars a taste today!

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