6 Amazing Health Benefits of Cacao Nibs

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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You can add cacao nibs to your diet in a number of clever ways to enjoy the many benefits they can provide!

What Are Cacao Nibs?

Cacao nibs are the purest form of chocolate, made from crushed and lightly processed cacao beans. The reason that these nibs are so highly sought after is their uniquely potent flavor, as well as their additive-free nature. The minimal amount of processing also allows these nibs to retain nearly the full nutritional value of the cacao beans, which are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients. Cacao nibs are widely considered a healthy snack and flavoring ingredient, but they don’t melt like normal chocolate. The melty chocolate only forms when the nibs are ground up into a paste, which is processed and then solidified.

Cacao Nibs Nutrition

Nutritionally speaking, cacao nibs are very high in dietary fiber, with nearly 9 grams in a 1-ounce serving. These nibs are also great sources of iron and magnesium, along with high levels of polyphenolic compounds (antioxidants), monounsaturated fats, and protein. In terms of calories, these nibs contain about 200 calories per cup, although most people would never consume that many nibs in one sitting.

Loose cocoa beans, powder, and sliced chocolate bits on a blue surface

Cacao nibs are simply chocolate in its purest form, before anything else is added. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Cacao Nibs Health Benefits

The many benefits of eating cacao nibs include their ability to help lose weight, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and stabilize mood, among others.

Muscle and Nerve Function

The combination of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats makes these nibs a tonic for nervine health, while also helping to improve communication and muscle function in the body.

Weight Loss

These are low in calories but proven to boost the metabolism, while high fiber levels keep you feeling full, thus reducing cravings and snacking.

Anemia

Regularly consuming iron-dense foods can lower your risk of anemia (iron deficiency), as well as its many side effects, such as fatigue and muscle weakness.

Heart Disease

Fiber and polyphenolic compounds, as well as monounsaturated fats, all work to lower cholesterol levels, improve the integrity of blood vessels, and generally protect your cardiovascular wellness.

Gastrointestinal Function

The high levels of fiber found in these nibs can help to optimize and stimulate your digestive function, relieving problems such as constipation and diarrhea.

How to Use Cacao Nibs?

These nibs can be used in many different ways, such as the following.

  • Adding a few to your coffee for a sweet treat
  • Adding them to smoothies and shakes to add an antioxidant bonus.
  • Some people enjoy sprinkling cacao nibs on top of their salads, in their granola, on top of yogurt or in trail mixes.
  • You can add the nibs to your ice cream, or even mix them in with baked vegetables for extra flavor.

Cacao Nibs Side Effects

The notable side effects of cacao nibs relate to their caffeine content, as well as potential contamination and complications of pregnancy.

  • Caffeine: These nibs contain both caffeine and theobromine, two stimulants that some people consciously avoid, particularly if they have nervous disorders or high blood pressure.
  • Contamination: Most nibs come in their pure, raw form, which does expose you to a high risk of contamination from bacteria or other pathogens that would be neutralized in the processed form (cocoa).
  • Pregnancy: Due to the caffeine content and powerful effects of cacao nibs, most pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended not to use it.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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