Raw Cacao Beans vs 100% Dark Chocolate

07/21/15 02:44:40PM
20 posts

Hi guys, I need to pick your brains on this.

So, I've been hearing people talking about cacao beans (not nibs), to nibble on. I bought a packet for myself to see what's the hype. I usually eat 100% Dark Chocolate ... no emulsifiers, no vegetable fats, no butter, no milk.

Cacao butter is obtained from whole cacao beans, which are fermented, roasted, and then separated from their hulls. About 54–58% of the residue is butter.

Am I right in thinking that the Raw Cacao Beans have Cacao Butter in them, making them less "healthy"? Is it a marketing hype or am I missing something? Some people even "roast them slightly", to give them a classic chocolate taste ... to me, roasting is yet another "kill" of nutritional value, making them closer to a processed 100% chocolate bar, but with a worse taste.

My question is, are Raw Cacao Beans any healthier / better than 100% Dark Chocolate Bars?


The nutritional value of "raw cacao beans", which I bought, has the following nutritional facts (per 100g):

Energy (kcal) ... 583
Fats (g) ... 43,5
- of which Saturated (g) ... 0
Total Carbohydrates (g) ... 35,1
- of which sugars (g) ... 0
Fibre (g) ... 0
Protein (g) ... 12,8
Sodium (mg) ... 0


The nutritional value of the 100% Dark Chocolate Bar (per 100g):

Energy (kcal) ... 609,29
Fats (g) ... 54,82
- of which Saturated (g) ... 33,89
Total Carbohydrates (g) ... 0,81
- of which sugars (g) ... 0,8
Fibre (g) ... 0
Protein (g) ... 11,86
Sodium (mg) ... 0,02

07/21/15 05:42:22PM
182 posts

Think of cocoa beans as made up of cocoa powder and cocoa butter. That is what you're eating when you eat beans. The amount of cocoa butter can vary between ~48%-56% depending on where the beans are from. 

A 100% chocolate bar is made from 100% cocoa solids. This could either be 100% cocoa beans (usually that have been roasted) or any combination of cocoa beans and cocoa butter (both are considered cocoa solids and are added together to get the 100% number). Often, but not always, commercial bar makers add additional cocoa butter to a 100% bar - so the bar may be 90% beans/10% ccb or 80% beans/20% ccb.

As for which is more healthy - there is plenty written on this forum and others stating that raw cocoa beans are not a healthy option (google it if you want more info). There are plenty of nasties on raw cocoa beans which are killed by roasting. Also, some people consider cocoa butter (in the right quantities) to be a "healthy" fat which seems to run contrary to your comment above. All depends what you're aiming to get from eating chocolate I guess.

07/21/15 05:53:46PM
20 posts

thanks so much @gap. you did explain that very well. :)


07/21/15 06:05:39PM
20 posts

after the cacao beans are roasted, do they contain any butter?
is roasting done after the separation of cacao butter from cacao bean (by pressing) or before?

07/21/15 06:26:03PM
110 posts

Cocoa butter extraction is done after roasting the beans.

To extract cocoa butter from cacao beans, the beans are roasted, cracked to help separate the shells from the nib. (The sells are a significant source of the nasties mentioned by gap.) After cracking, the nibs and shells are winnowed to separate the nib (broken beans) and the shell.

The nibs are then ground into Chocolate Liqour. Chocolate Liquor can be pressed to expell the cocoa butter. The grinding process helps allow the cooca butter to separate out.

The leftover cake of non-cocoa butter can be ground into cocoa powder. Thus as Gap said, you can think of cocoa beans as cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter and cocoa powder are just beans in a different form.


Re: the different fat content of your beans vs. 100% bar. The bar has a higher fat content. This could indicate the manufacturer added cocoa butter to thier recipe for 100% chocolate. It could also mean the beans they are using have a higher fat content, or it could simply mean they developed thier nutritional data table from different sources or methods. I suspect the latter is the more accurate diagnosis given the variance in saturated fat quantity, carbohydrate quantities between them. The manufacturer or producer may not have sufficient budget to outsource their products for detailed testing so the accuracy of the nurtritional tables you posted is suspect in my mind.  

07/21/15 06:58:43PM
20 posts

thank you @larry2

in fact you are right, it is actually 99% dark chocolate. i said 100% for simplicity.

ok, im gonna push it and ask another one (or two) on the subject. :D

so, when they say its a 70% dark chocolate bar, is that 70% cacao liquor +/ butter (solids) and 30% anything else?

what about white chocolate? it has no liquor, but it has cacao butter ... why is it called white chocolate and not 100% too?

why is it so confusing? lol

07/21/15 07:25:01PM
182 posts

For your 70% dark bar - essentially yes. Usually the 30% is made up of sugar (majority), lecithin (~<0.5%) and vanilla or vanillan (~<1%).

White chocolate has cocoa butter - usually in the 28-35% range (but it can be outside that range). So it is typically a 28-35% chocolate because the only cocoa solids are the cocoa butter (because as you note, their is no liquor). It is not 100% cocoa solids because there is also sugar, milk powder, vanilla, lecithin etc

07/21/15 08:12:16PM
20 posts

excellent, thank you both for your help in answering my chocolate dilemmas. :D

Keith Ayoob
03/04/24 01:28:27PM
40 posts

@joe-john, I'd like to weigh in on this.  First, some of the nutritional info you post there is reasonable, some is not -- and that's not unusual. The standout is the fiber content. There is fiber in both raw and 100% dark chocolate. My guess is that whatever lab the packagers used probably had a database for raw beans that was a bit outdated. Cocoa beans are not a common item. Sometimes labs to the analysis themselves, sometimes (more often) they use a standard database and these don't always contain data on all possible nutrients. For the 100% dark chocolate, that's a more common item (think "baking chocolate").

The saturated fat of the raw beans is listed as "0 gms". That' s not plausible, but the database used probably doesn't include data on sat fat, so it gets listed as "0". It should probably say "n/a". The roasted beans list sat fat as about 55-60% of the total fat content. That's realistic -- and the processing didn't magically "make" saturated fat.

As for roasting being a "nutritional kill", it really depends. Roasting or "cooking" can also release nutrients from inside cell walls. It's why cooked tomato products have more available lycopene than raw tomatoes.

Roasting does reduce the antioxidant content of cocoa beans, but it doesn't wipe it out completely. Research has demonstrated health benefits of dark chocolate, even if that won't qualify it as a "health food". The best benefits seem to happen in people undergoing higher levels of "oxidative stress". That is, the worse your diet is, the more improvement you'll see from more antioxidants. A healthy person eating a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts (this doesn't require a vegetarian or vegan eating style), will see less dramatic benefits.

As for sat fat, not all sat fats are the same and this is a problem in the nutrition research literature. The sat fat in cocoa is largely stearic acid, which seems to have a neutral impact on total cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, sat fats that are bound into a food matrix -- the most research has been done on dairy foods like full-fat cheese, milk, and yogurt -- has shown that the body handles the sat fat differently when compared with the sat fat in butter. These are all dairy fats, so it's a good comparison, but butter is unbound, and can raise CV risk, whereas the sat fat in cheese and full-fat yogurt are in a matrix, and don't seem to raise risk.  The evidence is still emerging, but these were well-done studies. No similar studies on cocoa vs cocoa butter have taken place, to my knowledge, so I can't comment there.

I've had a long career in the "nutrition space", and the above is based on the available evidence to my knowledge, as both a health professional and also someone who is fascinated by the science of cocoa & chocolate, and who does my best to stay current with the research. I hope this sheds a little light on your question, including that we don't have all the pieces to this puzzle yet.




Member Marketplace


Keith Ayoob
@keith-ayoob • 2 months ago • comments: 0
Posted a response to "Raw Cacao Beans vs 100% Dark Chocolate"
"@joe-john, I'd like to weigh in on this.  First, some of the nutritional info you post there is reasonable, some is not -- and that's not unusual...."
Tet Kay
@tet-kay • 6 months ago • comments: 0
@xocol855 • 3 years ago
Created a new forum topic:
@slaviolette • 4 years ago • comments: 0
Created a new discussion "Cost of goods produced":
"Hi Everyone, Been a long time member but I have not been in in a few years, the fact is that I had to close down my small chocolate business.. but now is..."
@chocolatelover123 • 5 years ago • comments: 0
Created a new forum topic:
New Chocolate Brand - "Palette"
Marita Lores
Marita Lores