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Cocoa butter (raw?, organic?)

Cocoa butter consists of 60% saturated fatty acids and is found in many chocolate products. It is organic, but rarely available in its raw form.
Macronutrient carbohydrates 0%
Macronutrient proteins 0%
Macronutrient fats 100%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, 2.8g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, 0.1g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 28:1

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Here, essential linolenic acid (LA) 2.8 g to essential alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) 0.1 g = 28:1.
Ratio Total omega-6 = 2.8 g to omega-3 fatty acids Total = 0.1 g = 28:1.
On average, we need about 2 g of LA and ALA per day from which a healthy body also produces EPA and DHA, etc.

Cocoa butter ( organic?, raw? ) is a vegetable fat with a lot of saturated fatty acids, which is derived from cocoa beans . It is mainly used for chocolate products.

Use in the kitchen

What is cocoa butter? In its natural state, the pale yellow to whitish vegetable fat has a mild but unmistakable cocoa flavor. The smell is faint but still pleasantly cocoa-like. Cocoa butter that has been treated with steam (deodorized) is odorless and tasteless. Cocoa butter is in a brittle, solid form at room temperature. It melts at body temperature, which is why products containing cocoa butter melt in the mouth.

Cocoa butter is primarily used to make various chocolate products, e.g. milk chocolate, white chocolate or melting chocolate, pralines, dark nougat, chocolate coating , spreads, cakes, pies, biscuits and muffins. It is responsible for the typical chocolatey aroma, but also for the creaminess and melting. Cocoa butter is also often used for vegan dessert creations and ice creams. Fruit smoothies can be refined with natural cocoa butter to give them a light cocoa note.

One advantage of steaming and lightly frying is that you only need a very small amount of cocoa butter. Tofu with vegetables gently fried in cocoa butter is one possible way of preparing it.

Since cocoa butter is purely plant-based and therefore vegan, it can also be used as a butter substitute for vegan dishes. Cocoa butter is not particularly suitable as a spread due to its hard consistency at room temperature. Alternatively, you can make vegetable margarine with just a few ingredients.

Is cocoa butter raw? Cocoa butter is only suitable for a raw food diet if the starting product (fermentation and drying of the raw cocoa bean, without roasting) and the production process (grinding and pressing) meet the criteria for raw food quality. However, checking raw food products is difficult because there is no recognized raw food label (seal).

Vegan recipe for amaranth chocolate bars with cocoa butter

Ingredients (for 8 people): 200 g cocoa butter (organic), 160 g amaranth (puffed) , 120 g macadamia nut puree, 50 g agave syrup (or less), 80 g cranberries (dried) , 60 g hazelnuts (chopped), 50 g figs (dried) , 30 g cocoa powder (unsweetened) , 1½ tspvanilla powder , 1½ tsp cinnamon powder , 1 pinch of salt .

Preparation: Gently heat the cocoa butter in a water bath until it is liquid. Put all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour the melted cocoa butter over it. Mix everything together well. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper - you want a smooth, not too thick surface. Place the baking tray in the fridge for around 30 minutes until the mixture is solid. Cut the mixture into thin bars. The vegan bars make a good quick energy snack between meals and, depending on how the cocoa butter is made, are raw food quality.

Vegan recipes with cocoa butter can be found under the note: " Recipes that have the most of this ingredient ".

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Purchasing - Storage

Cocoa butter (cocoa butter) is available in well-stocked supermarkets such as Coop , Migros , Rewe or Edeka . In other supermarkets (e.g. Denner , Volg , Spar , Aldi , Lidl , Billa , Hofer ) cocoa butter is not available for purchase regularly, at most during special weeks. Organic supermarkets (e.g. Alnatura , Denn's Biomarkt ) sell the vegetable fat in organic quality (bio). Delicatessens, online shops, drugstores and pharmacies also sell cocoa butter. You can find it in jars, in bowls, as fragments, powdered or in bags packaged as flakes, chips or drops.

The availability of cocoa butter varies depending on the size of the store, catchment area, etc. If you are interested, click on our recorded food prices for the DA-CH countries (above under the ingredient image). There you will find current prices from various supermarkets and their price development.

Storage tips

The high proportion of saturated fatty acids compared to the small amount of unsaturated fatty acids means that the cocoa butter has a long shelf life - provided that you store it correctly. How should you store cocoa butter? Cocoa butter should be stored airtight in a cool, dark place that is protected from light. How long does cocoa butter last? It has a shelf life of around two years. If you want to use it for longer, you should smell it before using it. As long as cocoa butter still has its typical scent and doesn't smell rancid, it's safe to eat.

Ingredients - Nutritional values - Calories

The energy content of cocoa butter is very high at 884 kcal/100g. 100 g of cocoa butter consists of 100 g of fat, of which 60% are saturated fatty acids - comparable to palm oil (49%). Coconut oil/coconut fat clearly exceeds the values with 82% saturated fats. Rapeseed oil , on the other hand, has a much better ratio with only 7.4% saturated fats. 1

The saturated fatty acids mainly contained in cocoa butter consist of palmitic acid (16:0) and stearic acid (18:0), among others; unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acid are also present. 1 In the case of unsaturated fatty acids, an unfavorable ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is also found (28:1).

Furthermore, cocoa butter contains 25 µg of vitamin K per 100 g (33% of the daily requirement). Agave syrup (22 µg/100g) and soy cream with rapeseed oil (24 µg/100g) have similar amounts. In comparison, cold-pressed rapeseed oil has significantly more vitamin K at 71 µg/100g. Swiss chard, as an unprocessed product, contains many times more of this vitamin at 830 µg/100g. 1

100 g of cocoa butter also contains 1.8 mg of vitamin E (15% of the daily requirement), which is comparable to hazelnut milk (1.8 mg/100g) and sesame oil (1.4 mg/100g). Hazelnut oil contains a large amount of vitamin E at 47 mg/100g . 1

The complete ingredients of cocoa butter, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients can be found in our nutrient tables. In the article Nutrients explained you will get a detailed insight into the topic.

Effects on health

Is cocoa butter healthy? According to a study, cocoa butter contains significant amounts of vitamin D 2 . The reason for this is that cocoa beans are susceptible to fungal attack. Fungi have a high ergosterol concentration, so contaminated beans often contain large amounts of ergosterol. This is a precursor to vitamin D 2 . After fermentation, the cocoa beans are often dried in sunlight, which may lead to the conversion of ergosterol into vitamin D 2 . 2 The vitamin D 2 content varies greatly depending on the food. However, due to the high fat and sugar content, there is hardly any recommendation to meet the daily requirement of this vitamin through products containing chocolate. 10

Further adverse effects can be found in the next chapter.

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects

Cocoa butter should only be consumed in small quantities, as the high calorie and fat content can promote the development of overweight and obesity if consumed in excess.

If you replace saturated fat with healthier fats, you reduce the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. This is how Prof. Dr. Rachel K. Johnson (nutritionist at the University of Vermont ) sums it up. 14 Read more about this topic in our article on coconut oil under the point health effects.

Folk medicine - natural healing

Cocoa butter has long been used as a base for suppositories and is contained in some ointments. 3

Ecological footprint - animal welfare

Different methods have been established for the cultivation of cocoa trees for commercial use. The trees usually grow in monocultures, for which existing forests are often cleared to create enough space. Alternatively, there is agroforestry, in which cocoa trees grow in a system of other plants. This means that they are not directly exposed to the sun and therefore require less water. Compared to monocultures, there is more potential for biodiversity here. 6

The ecological footprint in terms of the amount of CO 2 emitted for the production of cocoa butter depends on the cultivation method (organic or conventional cultivation), but also on the management (monoculture or agroforestry). Organic agroforestry produces the smallest amounts of CO 2 emissions compared to conventional agroforestry or the cultivation of cocoa trees in monocultures. 11 Overall, however, the ecological footprint is high, mainly due to the long transport routes from Africa or South America and the many production steps. 6 The carbon released during slash-and-burn for monocultures, which the trees have stored, must also be taken into account. This further increases the ecological footprint. 12 It is difficult to understand under which type of management the cocoa trees are grown for the production of cocoa products. However, you can look out for the Rainforest Alliance certified seal. Companies with this certification are encouraged to plant more native trees on their land and promote local agroforestry. Child labour can also be excluded through this seal (or through Fairtrade ). 13

Cocoa butter has a poor water footprint: around 34,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1 kg of cocoa butter. In comparison, 1 kg of coffee requires 18,900 litres of water and 1 kg of beef requires 15,400 litres of water. 5

When buying cocoa products, you should prefer sustainable products wherever possible. Organic logos indicate environmentally friendly cultivation (pesticide-free) and careful production, while fair trade seals indicate that the product is produced under fair conditions and without child labor. Organic methods also do not involve fumigation during transport or alkalizing the cocoa mass (additives such as sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate and magnesium oxide, tartaric acid and citric acid are required - without labeling requirements). 8

Animal protection - species protection

The deforestation of rainforests for cocoa cultivation deprives many animals, such as monkeys, of their habitat. Ivory Coast is the world's leading cocoa producer and has expanded its cocoa agro-industry enormously between 1961 and 2000. A large area of the jungle was sacrificed for this expansion. This resulted in a worrying decline in many primate populations. 7

Worldwide occurrence - cultivation

The cocoa tree ( Theobroma cacao ) comes from South and Central America (see cocoa bean ). The plant is cultivated in many tropical regions, with the majority of plantations located in the tropical rainforests of West Africa. The largest producers are Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. 3,4

Industrial production

How is cocoa butter made? Cocoa butter is made from fermented, cleaned and shelled cocoa beans . These are often roasted (at 130 °C). The beans are ground in cocoa mills to form a sticky cocoa mass. An intermediate step is often carried out: alkalization (Dutching / Dutch Process), in which the mass or the broken pieces are treated with alkali salts to make it easier to separate the cocoa mass and fat. The mass is put into a fat press, where the fat is separated from the remaining components. The press residue produces cocoa powder (often simply called cocoa), and the fat is the desired cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is usually cleaned with steam (deodorization). This removes undesirable contaminants from the fat and makes it tasteless. 8 This cocoa butter is called 'refined'.

To obtain raw cocoa butter, not only must the starting product, the cocoa bean, be unroasted, but the temperatures during cocoa fermentation and drying must also be carefully monitored. The temperature limits for raw food are not entirely clear and are not the same everywhere: for example, in Europe the limit is 42 °C, while in the USA in many places anything below 45-47 °C is considered raw. However, temperatures above 50 °C are not unusual during fermentation and when drying the cocoa beans in the sun, and controls are difficult here.

Further information

There is actually no clear melting point for cocoa butter. Rather, cocoa butter has a melting range that lies between 27 and 35 °C. This can be explained by cocoa butter polymorphism: cocoa butter is a polymorphic fat and can crystallize in different crystal forms, all of which have a different melting point. This ability comes from the triglycerides it contains. Cocoa butter usually has several crystal forms, which leads to a melting range. 9

Is there a cocoa butter substitute? For technological and economic reasons, there are cocoa butter equivalents (CBE), i.e. substitutes for cocoa butter. These vegetable fats are very similar to cocoa butter in their composition and properties. They can be used to replace cocoa butter or mixed in any ratio. Palm oil and shea butter are common equivalents, but olive oil orsunflower oil are also used. 8 Such cocoa butter imitations must be labelled in Europe.

Alternative names

Cocoa butter can also be called cocoa fat or cocoa oil. Incorrect spellings such as cocoa butter, cocoa butter etc. creep in. The drug name for cocoa butter in Latin is Cacao oleum (formerly Oleum cacao). You can also find Adeps cacao, Theobromatis oleum or Butyrum cacao (Butyrum de Cacao).

In English it is called cocoa butter, theobroma oil or theobroma cacao butter.

Other uses

Cocoa butter is used in all kinds of cosmetic and care products, such as lip balms, creams and lotions, due to its moisturising and protective properties. It is particularly suitable for dry, cracked skin and unruly hair. But be careful: it should not be used on oily skin or skin prone to acne, as it weighs the skin down and could clog pores. It is also used as an ingredient in soaps. It gives soaps a pleasant consistency and a creamy lather. Cocoa butter is also said to reduce wrinkles and stretch marks. However, this effect has not been scientifically proven.

According to popular claims, cocoa butter can be used as a repellent against insect bites. The smell of cocoa butter rubbed onto the skin is said to deter insects from biting. However, we could not find any studies that confirm this.

Bibliography - 14 Sources

1.USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
2.Kühn J, Schröter A, Hartmann BM, Stangl GI. Cocoa and chocolate are sources of vitamin D2. Food Chem. 2018;269:318–20.

Pahlow M. Das grosse Buch der Heilpflanzen. Gesund durch die Heilkräfte der Natur. Nikol Verlagsges. mbH: Hamburg; 2013: 451.

4.Pini U. Das Bio-Food Handbuch. Ullmann Verlag: Potsdam; 2014: 361-362.
5. World Water Day: chocolate, cocoa and coffee at the top of footprint. 2021.

6. Schokolade und Umwelt: die dunkle Seite. 2020.

7.Bitty EA, Bi SG, Bene J-CK, Kouassi PK, McGraw WS. Cocoa farming and primate extirpation inside cote d’ivoire’s protected areas. Tropical Conservation Science. 2015;8(1):95–113. Gewinnung von Kakaopulver und Kakaobutter.
9. Worin unterscheiden sich Kakaobuttersorten und inwiefern wirken sich diese Eigenschaften auf das Kristallisationsverhalten aus? 2021.

10.Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. Kakao: Eine leckere Quelle für Vitamin D? Pressemitteilung 119/2018.

Pérez-Neira D, Copena D, Armengot L, Simón X. Transportation can cancel out the ecological advantages of producing organic cacao: The carbon footprint of the globalized agrifood system of ecuadorian chocolate. Journal of Environmental Management. 2020: 276.

12.Melillo JM, Houghton RA, Kicklighter DW, McGuire AD. Tropical Deforestation and the global carbon budget. Annu. Rev. Energy Environ. 1996; 21:293-310.

Rainforest Alliance. Rainforest Alliance-zertifizierter Kakao. 2022.


Johnson RK. Front-of-pack labelling - healthier diets and better health or confused consumers? Editorial. Nutrition Bulletin. 2014 Aug;39(3): 235–7.