Have you heard of the cacao nib— the amazing superfood with benefits that are the rave of the moment? They are very delicious too! Cacao nibs are basically the cocoa bean after it is roasted, taken out of its husk from the Theobroma cacao tree and broken into small pieces.
Okay, before we go any further, it is important to note that chocolate isn’t the same as cacao nibs. Your favorite chocolate bar actually starts out as cacao nibs, but then is ground into a powder. Chocolate undergoes a lot of processing and has certain ingredients incorporated into the initial cacao powder before it is sold as chocolate. In fact, chocolate contains sugar, milk, as well as roasted cocoa and other ingredients.
However, you must understand that chocolate does contain the health benefits discussed below. You only get these wonderful health benefits from the cacao nib, which is either stored raw or roasted to retain its potency.
Let’s talk about the health benefits of cacao nibs.
Improves Cognitive Function
Compounds such as flavonoids present in cacao nibs improve blood circulation to the brain, thereby, improving attention span, memory, problem-solving skills, and reaction time. The blood flow also reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Additionally, cacao nibs have high contents of magnesium, which is essential for improving mental health and facilitating an active brain. In fact, a deficiency in magnesium has shown to result in serious health issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, panic attacks, and anxiety.
Improves Oral Health
The crystalline extract from cacao nibs is effective in strengthening the tooth enamel and preventing cavities.
Aids Weight Loss
MAO, an ingredient that suppresses appetite, is usually incorporated into weight loss products, but cacao nibs naturally contain MAO. As a matter of fact, MAO lets serotonin to do its work of circulation more than any other appetite suppressant. Weight loss isn’t that tasking, is it?
Though we’ve already mentioned ways cacao nibs improve heart health, there’s, even more, good stuff in them that keeps our cardiovascular system happy and healthy. Potassium has been proven to help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and cancer.
Protects the Heart
Cacao nibs have flavonoids in them. Flavonoids are actually anti-inflammatory antioxidants that help in protecting the arteries in the heart and brain as well as the heart. Flavonoids are blood-thinners and help to prevent clots. In fact, these antioxidants help prevent improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and keep stroke far away. Cacao is made up of an antioxidant known as polyphenol as well as so many compounds that are effective in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol. In fact, compared to conventional heart drugs, cacao is actually more effective in protecting the heart and keeping it healthy.
Prevents Premature Aging
Did you know that the polyphenols responsible for protecting the heart are in the same kind present in green tea and red wine? They help to protect cells against oxidation, thus, curbing premature aging.
Cacao nibs are effective in stimulating the brain to release a feel-good hormone known as serotonin. The truth is cacao nibs have a way of improving mood. The cacao nib contains an amino acid called anandamide and a compound known as phenylethylamine. Phenethylamine actually triggers the production of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are effective in improving and regulating mood, including during menstruation. Have you ever wondered why women buy lots of dark chocolate bars along with tampons at the grocery store? Now, you know!
Promotes Healthy Cells
Cacao nibs contain very high amounts of antioxidants, even higher than other superfoods like pomegranates, blueberries, green tea, and acai. Of course, antioxidants are known to help combat cell damage caused by free radicals. As a matter of fact, cacao nibs are believed to contain as much as four times the amount of antioxidants present in dark chocolate!
High Magnesium Source
Owing to its magnesium content, consuming cacao improves energy levels and reduces extreme tiredness. Cacao has one of the highest natural sources of magnesium which is effective in combating osteoporosis, lowering blood pressure, and fighting type II diabetes. Magnesium also controls blood pressure, regulates blood glucose, and synthesizes proteins.
Sadly, cortisol, a stress hormone, is known to retain fat that the body would rather do without. Thankfully, the properties contained in cacao nibs help to reduce cortisol in the bloodstream, encourage fat-burning as well as improve the microbial activity in the gastrointestinal tract.
Rich in Fiber
Cacao nibs are actually very rich in fiber. This helps to ease bowel movement, stimulate digestive enzymes, stabilize blood glucose levels as well keep blood pressure levels at a healthy rate.
Side Effects and Precautions
Cacao bean is generally regarded to be safe for consumption. However, it should not be taken in excess, particularly, because of caffeine in it.
An excessive consumption of caffeine can be harmful to one’s health. This is why the consumption of Cacao beans should be moderate and not exceed the recommended quantity.
The Bottom Line
Evidently, cacao nibs are way healthier than the chocolate at the candy bar. Cacao nibs have a nutty and slightly bitter flavor to them but are healthier than the creamy and tastier chocolate so many people are used to. It may take some time to get used to, but with cacao nibs, you are on the right track!