Benefits of Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs are basically chocolate in a minimally processed form and are considered raw chocolate. Seeds from the Theobroma Cacao tree and are dried, separated from the husks, and roasted into the nibs. They taste bitter with a light nutty flavor and are nutritionally packed. On the trail they can be added to trail mixes, bars, nut butters, oatmeal, or coffee. At home I like to add them to smoothies and baked items.
You’ve probably heard that dark chocolate has some health benefits. I know that always makes me feel better about eating an entire chocolate bar. Since cacao nibs lack added sugar and are the least processed form of chocolate they are even more nutritionally potent than dark chocolate, so eat up! Here are some of the benefits of cacao nibs that you will get by incorporating them into your diet.
Cacaco nibs are high in flavonoid content which are the same antioxidants found in berries and tea. Antioxidants are important because they help fight free radical damage in the body. Free radicals can cause damage to your DNA and have been associated with increased risk of cancer and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
One ounce of cacao nibs has 9 grams of fiber. That’s roughly a third of the recommended daily fiber intake. Fiber is important because it normalizes bowel movements, helps control blood sugar levels, keeps you feeling full longer, and lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Fiber is what feeds your gut bacteria and if they don’t get enough of it to eat, they will start eating the lining of your gut.
High in Magnesium
Cacao nibs are one of the highest food sources of magnesium, which is responsible for 300 plus functions in the body. Magnesium assists in muscle contraction, nerve function, and bone development. It also helps regulate heart beat and blood glucose levels.
High in Potassium
Potassium regulates blood pressure, supports heart function, assists in muscle contraction, and prevents bone loss and kidney stones. There are 183 mg of potassium in a one ounce serving of cacao nibs. The average person is not getting the daily recommended amount of potassium which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Magnesium and potassium are both electrolytes and if you’re hiking in warm weather, you will be sweating them out and need to replace them.
Feel Good Food
When cacao or chocolate is consumed, the brain releases neurotransmitters that can trigger feel-good emotions. Researchers believe that cacao contains active substances that have the same effect on the brain as marijuana. Anandamine is a lipid found in cacao and its molecular shape is similar to that of THC.
Caffeine and Theobromine
Cacao has both caffeine and theobromine, which are both nervous system stimulants and can have an effect similar to coffee. Depending on your tolerance for caffeine, this may or may not be a positive benefit for you. Consuming too much cacao can cause anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and heartburn.
If you’re interested in providing your body with some of the benefits of cacao nibs, you can find them at your local health food store. I like the brand Wild Raw Nibs, which can be purchased on Amazon.