Cacao nibs may be small, but they pack a punch. These chocolatey flavored bits are a much healthier substitute for chocolate lovers as they are loaded with several beneficial nutrients.
Cacao nibs are one of the least processed cocoa products on the market today and are naturally low in sugar. They are high in fiber, magnesium, iron, healthy fats, protein, and potassium. Magnesium helps raise energy levels and reduces fatigue. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease. It also helps kidneys and other organs to function properly. Furthermore, cacao nibs contain flavonoid antioxidants that have numerous health benefits.
Check out the number of nutrients one ounce (28 grams) of cacao nibs provides.
Cacao nibs contain many antioxidants; possibly more than any other superfood you may know like green tea, blueberries, and pomegranates. Antioxidants are extremely important for us as they can help reduce cell damage in your body done by free radicals (unstable molecules or atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging). While dark chocolate is considered one of the best sources of antioxidants, you would be surprised to know that cacao nibs have almost four times the antioxidants found in the former!
Cacao nibs contain healthy fats and other useful compounds that stimulate the brain to release serotonin, a feel-good hormone. You are likely to feel your mood lift instantly after you have just a little bit of cacao nibs! Moreover, they contain anandamide, a little-known chemical also referred to as the “bliss molecule” as well as the compound phenylethylamine. Both of these prompt the release of endorphins and other happy chemicals in the brain that eventually elevate our mood and produce feelings of happiness.
Cacao nibs also contain flavonoids: plant chemicals that are found in almost all fruits and vegetables and are responsible for their vivid colors. Flavonoids thin the blood and prevent clots. The flavonoids found in cacao nibs can also help decrease inflammation and improve the body’s overall immune health.
The flavonoids in cocoa nibs have been linked to improved heart health. Studies have shown that consuming flavonoid-rich foods such as cacao nibs can lower rates of cardiovascular-related diseases. They also help prevent stroke, lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Furthermore, cocoa also contains over 700 known compounds of antioxidants including polyphenol. Together, they can improve blood vessel function, and blood flow, and raise HDL or “good” cholesterol while decreasing LDL or “bad” cholesterol. All of this can eventually protect your heart against any unwanted diseases.
Certain compounds in cacao nibs have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is harmful and can lead to health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes arthritis, and depression. Foods high in antioxidants, like cacao nibs, can help curb this.
Cacao nibs are easily available in packages or even in bulk in most food stores. They can also be bought online. You can probably find both roasted and raw cacao nibs at your local grocery store.
Their bitter chocolatey flavor makes them a great addition to sweet and savory recipes; especially since they are naturally low in sugar and high in many nutrients. Do keep in mind, however, that cacao nibs have a rich flavor and can be much more bitter than dark chocolates since they don’t include any added sweeteners. That also makes them a healthy chocolate candy alternative.
You can add cocoa nibs to your diet by:
* Sprinkling them on your oatmeal.
* Using them as a dairy-free substitute for chocolate chips in cookie and brownie recipes.
* Tossing them into your favorite smoothie.
* Mixing them with your coffee drinks or some backed goods.
* Blending them into your homemade nut butter.
* Incorporating them with nuts and dried fruit to have a healthy and savory snack in the evening.
* Adding them as a healthy topping to your favorite ice creams.
So, now that you’re aware of the many benefits cocoa nibs hold, try and incorporate them into your diet instead of picking up a chocolate bar. The bitter, nutty flavor might take some time to get used to but they are surely a healthy choice.
That being said, you shouldn't go overboard with them as, like other forms of cacao beans, they contain a significant amount of caffeine and can cause side-effects like anxiety, jitteriness, and trouble sleeping. They should also be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women and those who are sensitive or allergic to chocolate or dietary nickel. Savor them in normal amounts and enjoy their numerous perks.
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