|Cacao can be bought as powder, or nibbed beans.|
Cacao is scientifically known as theobroma cacao, or "food of the gods". The Maya and Aztec peoples of central America believed that cocoa was literally a gift from the gods.They even used cocoa beans as currency. They must have realised its health benefits, although ancient texts do state that cocoa was only drunk by men as it was considered toxic for women and children!
Livestrong.com lists the nutritional values and health benefits of raw cacao, and they are truly amazing: zero chloresterol, but fibre, protein, iron, calcium, magnesium and lots of disease-preventing antioxidants too. Dark chocolate is well known for it's endorphin-producing properties that can act as an anti-depressant, and although not yet scientifically proven, it's reasonable to assume that cacao will also have those properties.
Cacao can be substituted for processed cocoa powder to make hot drinks, used in cooking or to make raw desserts and icecreams.