Do you like dark chocolate?
Many people are now becoming aware of the great health benefits that come from raw and dark chocolate. Consuming dark chocolate of at least 70% (but ideally 90 +) cacao can boost your health but you might want to take it a step further and check out the amazing nutrition that comes from cacao nibs.
What's The Difference Between Cacao and Cocoa?
Excellent question! When you see cacao referenced it's referring back to the purer form of the raw bean from the Theobroma cacao tree while cocoa is more commonly what we refer to as something that's been processed further into things like bars, powders etc.
What Are Cacao Nibs?
With the nibs you are basically eating the actual cacao bean that starts out roasted, are then separated from their husks and then broken up into smaller pieces. As good as a dark chocolate bar is, it is still a manufactured and processed product that can contain added ingredients and even artificial flavourings.
With cacao nibs, you are looking at the most natural form of chocolate and something that has received minimal processing. These little beauties are packed full of nutrition and have some proven health benefits such as:
1. High Antioxidant Content
We are becoming more aware of the damage that happens to our bodies from oxidation and the dangers of free radicals. Antioxidants are able to help combat this oxidative damage and are one of the main benefits behind eating dark chocolate. With cacao nibs you get one of the highest sources of antioxidants that assist in fighting off DNA damage, premature aging and certain cancers.
So as good as that dark chocolate bar may be for your antioxidant dose do yourself the favour and get an even more natural, and higher dose of them with the cacao nibs.
2. Fighting Cardiovascular Disease With Flavonoids
The antioxidant activity in things like fruit, veg, tea, wine and cacao come from the flavonoids they contain. Flavonoids give colour and pigmentation in plants and are also involved in the UV filtration process. There are different forms of flavonoids and they act similar to antioxidants in that they have cancer-fighting properties and free radical scavenging ability.
When it comes to cardiovascular health there is an association of the flavonoid content of cacao nibs and lower rates of cardiovascular-related mortality. Increasing our intake of flavonoid-rich food looks to be a great health idea on many fronts and cacao nibs are an easy way to get a good intake of that.
Fun Fact: Up until the early 1950's flavonoids were referred to as vitamin P because of the effect they had on the permeability of vascular capillaries. I feel like it's time for a comeback....
3. Cacao Nibs Contain Soluble Fibre
The importance of fibre, specifically soluble fibre, cannot be understated and we are consuming far from enough of it. Cacao nibs contain soluble and insoluble fibre so not only can it help with healthy bowel movements, the soluble fibre plays a key role in blood sugar control, heart health and can even help in weight management as fibre has the ability to keep you full.
Cacao nibs are kings of fibre content as just a one-ounce serving provides 9 grams. Pretty tough to beat that!
Cacao Nibs Are Easy To Incorporate Into Your Diet
If you are new to dark chocolate even starting out with a 70% bar can take some adjustment if you've been consuming sugary "chocolate like" items found in checkout aisles. It can be an acquired taste but as you get used to it and learn to appreciate it, you'll find it gets sweeter and sweeter and you'll never go back to the alternatives again.
Cacao nibs fall into the same category as they have a bitter, but nutty, type of flavour but a pleasing texture and crunch. There is also a unique mouth-cooling effect that comes from the cocoa butter. They are easy to add into any healthy dessert recipe. I like to add them into my homemade granola and chia seed pudding for that added texture. They can even take the edge off of any late night ice cream indulgence by providing some great nutrition to a snack that is not so ideal. Try adding them into some steel cut oats in the morning also.
Cacao nibs are easier to find now either packaged or in bulk food stores where I like to get them. The cost isn't high and they will last you quite awhile, so get out there and get your nib on!