If you’re looking for the best cacao nibs products to buy this year, then you’ve come to the right place.
You can also get more info by jumping to our Cacao Nibs Products Guide.
Top 10 Cacao Nibs Products
|#1||Viva Labs Raw Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#2||Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#3||Healthworks Certified Organic Raw Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#4||Terrasoul Superfoods Raw Organic Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#5||TruVibe 100% Organic Raw Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#6||Joyfuel Raw Organic Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#7||Divine Organics Raw Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#8||Imlak’esh Organics Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#9||Ojio Raw Organic Cacao Nibs||More Info|
|#10||Kazu Organic Cacao Nibs||More Info|
Cacao nibs are not to be confused with cocoa. Cacao, or Theobroma cacao, is the real deal when it comes to chocolate. Raw cacao is the base for which chocolate products are made. It is considered a superfood containing healthful phytonutrients and flavanoids. Cacao nibs are a terrific addition to your diet if you want to provide some extra nutrition. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and how to use cacao.
What Are Cacao Nibs?
Cacao was first introduced as a cultivated food in the ancient Mexican Olmec civilization, dating back approximately 3,000 years. Cacao was often used to make a beverage that was served at wedding ceremonies and other celebrations. It was said to be the food of the gods.
The Theobroma Cacao tree produces fruit known as cacao pods. Each pod contains seeds or beans that can be extracted to make a butter that is then used to make chocolate, when mixed with sugar, and to make creams that are used topically. Cacao nibs are the beans that have been separated from their husks and broken or chopped up into smaller pieces. The nibs are the purest form of what we know as chocolate. However, these are bitter, not sweet.
Benefits of Cacao Nibs
Cacao has numerous health benefits. Ancient civilizations understood this and made beverages using cacao to improve athletic performance, mental awareness, and feelings of pleasure. Here are some of the known benefits.
Cacao stimulates the brain to release neurotransmitters that signal the rest of the body how to behave. This stimulation and neurotransmitter release is what affects our mood and emotional stability.
When eaten, cacao produces the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA), which is similar to adrenalin. This can help you feel good and have better focus and alertness. PEA is necessary to keep depression in check. It is believed that PEA may be responsible for feelings of euphoria.
Supports Muscles and Nerves
Cacao nibs are an amazing source of magnesium. 100 grams of cacao contains roughly 250 mg of magnesium. Magnesium is very important for your muscles to function optimally, including your heart muscle. Magnesium is also critical for your nervous system. According to a study in the Journal of Psychology, magnesium may be one of the keys to controlling nerve pain. This is a critical mineral for those with peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes.
The antioxidants found in cacao are what fight the disease causing and premature aging properties of damaging free radicals. Additionally, cacao has been shown to reduce blood pressure and the related risks of coronary heart disease and strokes. According to Harvard Medical School, the flavanoids in cacao can improve cholesterol levels, blood clotting, coronary artery function, and insulin sensitivity.
What a nice thought, eating chocolate to lose weight. Pure cacao nibs are very high in dietary fiber. One ounce of raw cacao has 9 grams of fiber. Dietary fiber is needed for bowel health and regularity. When trying to lose weight it is imperative that the bowels are functioning optimally. Also, fiber provides a feeling of fullness which may help with caloric intake.
Control Anemia and Fight Fatigue
Raw cacao provides 6% of the RDA of iron. Iron helps to control anemia by aiding your body in producing red blood cells. It is recommended that cacao be taken with foods that are high in vitamin C to enhance absorption of the iron. An iron deficiency results in fatigue and can lead to anemia.
It is a known fact that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. That is why it is so popular as a Valentine’s Day gift. However, commercial chocolate may have very little of the benefits of pure cacao. The chemicals present in raw cacao are what stimulate the senses and heighten feelings of arousal. The anandamide and phenylethylamine chemical compounds in cacao stimulate the brain to release dopamine, one of the feel good neurotransmitters.
Are There Any Side Effects?
As with any food or nutritional supplement, there are different schools of thought as to the effectiveness and safety of a specific product. Some experts claim there are harmful side effects of consuming cacao nibs, while others claim the benefits outweigh any potential side effects. Here are some of the reported side effects. Keep in mind that these are based on consuming very high amounts of cacao.
- Cacao is relatively high in calories and fat. It should be eaten in small amounts for this reason.
- Raw cacao is stimulating, just like caffeinated coffee. This can cause your heart to race, your kidneys to be aggravated, and your bowels to work a little harder if too much is consumed.
- Some feel cacao has the potential to be highly addictive. This may be due to the adrenal stimulation and the neurotransmitter releasing action that is accompanied by feelings of euphoria.
- In extremely high doses, cacao may cause anxiety, hallucinations, and nightmares. This might be due to the stimulating effects and possible sleep disturbances if consumed at night.
- Long-term consumption of raw cacao may lead to episodes of paranoia. This has been reported but there are no in-depth studies to back up the reports.
- Daily intake of cacao may cause a toxic buildup in the bloodstream and digestive organs. This is possible with overconsumption of several foods and supplements.
How to Take Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs are consumed as a food not as a supplement. Cacao can be found raw in either nib form or powdered. Cacao nibs are sometimes toasted to reduce some of the bitter flavor. At its purest, cacao is consumed in raw nib form. There is a bit of a debate over whether “raw” cacao is actually 100% raw.
The nibs have a crunchy texture with a slightly bitter taste and hints of chocolate. They are the purest form of chocolate without any of the sweetness that you would find in something like chocolate chips. You might find the taste takes some getting used to. If you already love super dark chocolate you will probably enjoy the nibs.
The best way to consume and enjoy cacao nibs is to add them to your favorite dishes. They play well with both sweet and savory ingredients.
- Bake the nibs in cookies
- Toast them in with a batch of homemade granola
- Sprinkle nibs on your morning oats
- Add to yogurt
- Use them in smoothies
- Eat nibs raw as a snack
- Stir a spoonful into hot coffee
- Grind them and use as a crust on game meats
- Add to salads for a little crunch
- Cook them into spiced dishes like curries and tagines
What to Look for in a Good Cacao Nib Product
Cacao nibs are not as easy to find as you would think. They just haven’t become a popular item on grocery store shelves yet. They are well stocked in health and natural food stores and available at online retailers. The nibs are used by some of the best chefs in culinary preparations, sometimes being sourced directly for the producers in Central and South America.
When looking for a good cacao nib product try to find one that is non-GMO, organically grown, and sustainably harvested. The ingredient list should be limited to “raw cacao nibs”. There shouldn’t be any artificial additives or preservatives.
The Wrap Up
Cacao is chocolate in its purest form. It is high in antioxidants, minerals, dietary fiber, and stimulating chemical compounds. Cacao nibs can help with mood, muscle and nerve function, heart health, weight loss, fatigue, and pleasure. Unlike cocoa, cacao is raw, or very lightly heated, and does not contain additives or sugars. It is a healthier way to consume chocolate.