The Ultimate Superfood: Cacao Powder Vs Nibs

 by Dr. Steve Hruby
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby

I am a chiropractor, father, husband, coach, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. Feeling good about yourself is a choice: My mission is to transform lives through optimized health and overall well-being.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’ve been called a Data Ninja, The Fact Checker, and a Human Search Engine. I’m an indie content curator who does research daily, and quizzes myself on the important issues of the day.

cacao powder vs nibs

Ever heard of cacao? If yes, then you probably know the numerous health benefits that come with it. But the big question is deciding between cacao powder vs nibs.

Do they give the same benefits?

What is the difference between cacao powder and cacao nibs? Are these used the same? 

One thing we know is that both foods come from the same plant. They are a tropical plant food from the Theobroma cacao plant. The difference comes in how they are prepared.

In the post, I’ll explain the difference between these two supplements, their health benefits, and their uniqueness in taste.

Keep reading.

What Is Cacao Powder?

Cacao powder is a powder made from pressing unroasted cacao beans. The process removes the cacao butter/fats leaving a rich and bitter-tasting powder. Cacao powder can be used the same as cocoa powder. 

But the two undergo different processing. Cacao powder is cold pressed, while cocoa powder is processed at very high temperatures.

So are cocoa powder and cacao powder the same? It’s a good question to ask since they can be used the same. Raw cacao powder does have the same health benefits as cocoa powder.

Cacao powder is a very fine powder made from grinding cocoa beans. But unlike cocoa powder, cocoa butter is extracted. It retains a delicious chocolate taste while keeping various ingredients, minerals, and nutrients.

Does the cold pressing to remove cocoa butter affect the nutrients? Let’s keep reading to see which one is better.

What Are Cacao Nibs?

Cacao nibs are crunchy nibs processed from fermented cacao beans. They are the least processed of cacao powder and cocoa powder. The crunchy nibs have been cut into small edible pieces.

cacao nibs

In appearance, they look more like chocolate chips. They are minimally processed, leaving most of the ingredients intact. Cacao bins compare much to cinnamon and turmeric, with a wide array of health benefits.

Cacao nibs contain the same amount of fats, fiber, and nutrients as cacao beans. Cacao nibs are a superfood but cannot be used interchangeably with cacao powder.

While nutrients are almost the same, the texture and taste will feel slightly different. You can use the powder as your old-school Hershey cocoa powder.

But what’s the main difference between cacao nibs vs cocoa powder? Keep reading to learn more.

Nibs vs. Powder: What Is the Difference?

By now, you probably know the two superfoods come from the same plant, Theobroma cacao. This is an evergreen plant native to the Americas. So, where does the difference come in?

The main difference between cacao nibs and powder is the manufacturing process. As the name suggests, cacao powder is powder from cold-processed, unroasted cacao beans. The processing of the powder removes the butter leaving a somehow subtle rich & bitter-tasting powder.

With the fats extracted, a bitter taste remains. We can only compare the taste to a moringa vs spirulina taste, where there is a bitter taste of the green algae.

Cacao nibs, on the other hand, are simply dried and fermented cacao beans. The nibs are sometimes cut into small edible pieces that look like chocolate chips. 

When you pop cacao nibs in your mouth, the taste and texture will be the same as tasting some dried, roasted bean.

The taste and texture of cacao nibs feel similar to cacao beans. The fiber and fats are the same as cocoa beans. Unlike the powder, you’re not sacrificing any nutrients. 

The choice of which is the best to consume comes down to personal preference.

Differences in Health Benefits

Are there differences in their health benefits? First, it’s important to recognize these two come from the same plant. So, they share most of the health benefits.

person holding cocoa beans

Both are superfoods loaded with live enzymes and phytonutrients. They also contain magnesium, iron, and fiber. Additionally, the two superfoods contain many antioxidants competing with foods like blueberries.

But there is a small difference in the health benefits of processed cocoa powder and raw cacao nibs. Raw cacao nibs retain all the natural ingredients. The manufacturing process does not extract or damage any nutrients.

But the difference is minimal, and you won’t sacrifice a lot of nutrients by taking cacao powder.

Generally, cacao powder and nibs are high-nutrient foods with a lot to benefit the body. They are foods rich in vitamins, fibers, and minerals like magnesium. 

Let’s dive into some of the nutrients you can expect.

Magnesium: Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels while promoting good blood pressure. It also helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function.

Iron: It also produces iron, a crucial component of the blood. Iron is found in hemoglobin, a substance in the red blood cells that helps carry blood throughout the body. This helps reduce fatigue.

Potassium: It helps strengthen bones, lower blood pressure and maintain better brain function.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants play a crucial role in neutralizing the body and helping remove free radicals from the blood.

Fiber:  Fibers help normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels and achieve healthy weights. It helps you feel fuller for longer and avoid eating unnecessarily. This helps cut down weight.

These are just a few of the health benefits of cacao. But there are several more health benefits associated with vitamins and minerals. 

For example, cacao contains anandamide which helps improve moods. It’s commonly known as the bliss molecule and helps us feel better. So if you want some happy days, consider trying this superfood.

It has also been said to help fight cardiovascular diseases and keep us healthy.

The only difference in the health benefits comes in the removal of fats, widely known as cacao butter. Apart from the butter in cacao powder, the two foods are the same regarding health benefits. You can choose any without worrying about sacrificing some important nutrients.

For most parts, the biggest sacrifice is the taste. You will be getting a huge load of phytonutrients from both foods.

Difference in Taste

So what does cacao powder taste like? Is the same as cacao nibs? There is a difference in taste due to the extraction of cacao butter in the powder. Both the nibs and the powder feature a slightly bitter taste with a strong and natural flavor.

brown powder on a wooden spoon near chocolates

Cacao nibs are crunchy and feature a strong flavor. They taste more like a deep chocolate flavor. But they retain more bitterness than processed cacao powder. The taste is pretty similar to dark chocolate without added sugars.

They have been fermented to help preserve the antioxidants. The taste and texture of the nibs feel like eating roasted cocoa beans. On the other hand, the powder undergoes cold pressing, which removes the cacao butter. It leaves a subtle but rich-tasting powder.

Cacao Powder vs Cacao Nibs FAQS 

Can I Substitute Cacao Powder for Cacao Nibs?

No, you cannot substitute cacao powder for cacao nibs. While the two foods come from the same plant, their processing differs.

The texture of cacao powder vs cacao nibs is different and cannot be substituted. Cacao powder is just powder, while the nibs add some extra crunchiness.

What Is the Healthiest Form of Cacao?

Raw cacao is the healthiest form of cacao. While the difference between the powder and nibs is minimal, cacao nibs prepared through fermentation retain almost all the natural nutrients.

The fermentation process helps preserve antioxidants, which does not happen with the powder form.

Can I Grind Cacao Nibs Into Cacao Powder?

Yes, you can grind cacao nibs into cacao powder. But first, you must use the cacao nibs a few times in a food processor. After processing the food processor, grind them in a coffee grinder.

chocolate ball on cacao powder

You should not try grinding them in powder using a food processor alone. This will leave big chunks and affect the overall results.

What Is the Difference Between Cacao Nibs and Cocoa Nibs?

The difference between cacao nibs and cocoa nibs is the production process. Cacao nibs are small edible pieces of crushed cacao beans that have been fermented. This is how to make cocoa powder from cacao nibs.

On the other hand, cocoa powder is prepared at high temperatures and crushed into powder.


Still, wondering what to choose between cacao powder and cacao nibs? These two are a superfood loaded with live enzymes and phytonutrients that benefit the body in so many ways. The only difference comes in the preparation process.

Cacao nibs are cold pressed and fermented while the powder is prepared at high temperatures. The high temperatures extract cocoa butter and do not retain as many antioxidants as in the nibs. However, the difference in the health benefits is very minimal.

So, which one should you pick? Nibs are the least processed and retain almost all the natural ingredients. But the choice comes down to what flavor you love. Whether you take the powder or the nibs, you still reap all the health benefits of consuming cacao beans.

Go right ahead and try them out.

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