Smooth, creamy, and light yellow, cacao butter is a popular ingredient in the beauty industry. Interestingly, this plant-based fat can also help improve your health in many ways. What is cacao butter and what does the research say about its benefits?
This guide explores cacao butter in more detail. Learn how it’s made, uses, and its health effects ranging from supporting bone health to providing omega-3 fatty acids.
Cacao butter comes from cacao beans. Also called cocoa butter, theobroma oil, or “food of the gods,” this type of edible fat solidifies at room temperature — just like coconut oil. It has been used for many decades as an ingredient to produce chocolate confectioneries (*).
Cacao butter is the reason why chocolate melts in your mouth!
Here’s a fun fact: The more cacao butter chocolate contains, the easier it melts.
Cacao butter contains mostly saturated fat (approximately 60%), some monounsaturated fat, and a small amount of polyunsaturated fat (*). To make cocoa butter, raw cocoa beans first undergo a process of fermentation, drying, and roasting to produce cacao nibs.
The nibs are then pressed to squeeze out cacao butter, after the separation of the cacao solids and fat.
Both are essentially the same since they come from one source — cacao beans. However, they can also slightly differ in that cocoa butter involves a higher temperature in its processing. When it comes to taste, you may also notice that cacao butter has a stronger, more bitter chocolate flavor than cocoa butter.
(Note that some cocoa butter products have added sugars, so you have to be careful.)
There are many reasons to incorporate cacao butter into your diet. Whether you’re looking for plant-based fat sources or optimizing your nutrient intake from a variety of foods — cacao butter is worth a try.
Below are some of the health benefits associated with cacao butter:
- May boost your vitamin D intake: Cacao butter is particularly high in vitamin D2 (or pre-vitamin D), which is needed for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus (*).
- May reduce your risk of heart disease: Cacao butter is made up of stearic acid (37%) and oleic acid (34%). Stearic acid, a saturated fat, lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, has been linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (*, *). When it comes to your LDL cholesterol, note that some people on a low-carb or keto diet may notice an increase in LDL, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially with a reduction in small LDL particles.
- Exhibits anti-inflammatory properties: Products derived from cocoa, including cacao butter, contain various polyphenolic compounds. Flavonoids, in particular, interfere with the development of inflammatory mediators — which protects your heart and brain (*, *).
- May help control blood sugar: For those who have diabetes, cocoa butter can support healthy blood glucose levels since it’s sugar-free and doesn’t contain carbohydrates. Moreover, cocoa flavonols may slow the absorption of carbs in the gut and modulate insulin signaling (*).
- A good addition to any low-carbohydrate or keto diet: People on a keto diet obtain the majority of their calories from fat. Cacao butter is pure fat, providing 14 grams of fat in one tablespoon (*).
- Contains omega-3 fats: Omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to many benefits, aren’t just found in fish and seafood — cacao butter also contains them. Studies have found that omega-3s may significantly reduce triglycerides and boost metabolism to increase weight loss (*).
Any recipe that requires the use of butter and other oils may use cacao butter as an alternative. What’s great about cacao butter is that it has a high smoke point, making it a good option for high-temperature cooking.
In case you’re wondering how to incorporate it into your lifestyle, here are some ideas:
- Make dairy-free “bulletproof” coffee: While bulletproof coffee actually requires MCT oil, there’s no reason to skip cacao butter. Instead of 1 tablespoon of MCT oil, use the same amount of cacao butter.
- Create delicious homemade smoothies: Cacao butter goes well with different ingredients, such as Greek yogurt, cinnamon, chocolate, almonds, and hazelnuts. You can always create low-carb and high-fat smoothies to support your daily activities.
- Make all kinds of healthy desserts: Missing decadent desserts on a sugar-free diet? The high-fat nature of cacao butter makes it wonderful for all sorts of treats, such as chocolate chip cookies, flourless cakes, and brownies.
- Use it for cooking savory recipes: With regard to savory dishes, cacao butter may work well with basil, curry, cauliflower, fish, scallops, and red meat. Using cacao butter can be great for sealing in moisture in foods.
- Skincare and hair care routine: Cacao butter is easy to use — all you need to do is take a small amount, then rub or massage it over your skin and hair (as a deep conditioning treatment). Just make sure to wash your hair after ten minutes since it solidifies.
Store cacao butter in its original packaging, preferably in the fridge to make it last for up to two years. Keeping it in the cupboard (away from light, moisture, and high temperatures) is also fine, although note that it will only last for less than two months.
You’ll know that cacao butter has gone bad if it develops a strong, rancid smell. Note the presence of mold and a harder texture. If cacao butter shows these signs, discard it immediately.
Many grocery stores and supermarkets sell cacao butter, such as Whole Foods and Walmart. Usually, you’ll find it in the “superfoods” section, baking section, or “natural foods” section. Health shops and online stores also offer cacao butter.
Check out these popular cacao butter brands:
- Navitas Organics ($11.99)
- Terrasoul Superfoods ($7.99)
- Wild Foods Co ($21.99)
- Sunfood Superfoods ($24.99)
- White Naturals ($25.95)
Now that you know more about cacao butter and how it can be beneficial for supporting your vitamin D intake, cardiovascular health, and blood sugar — start adding it to your daily health routine.
Also, in case you’re looking for low-carb products with cacao butter as one of the ingredients, Perfect Keto has them! Get your daily dose of cacao butter in our Perfect Keto snack bars, nut butter, and keto cookie bites.