Delicious Natural Cacao Nibs
Cacao Nibs have exploded in popularity over the past few years and they are one of the main ingredients I use in my Love Balls and it’s hardly a wonder, when you see what they are packed with.
They are now quite often labelled as a “superfood”. In my opinion, that’s not a bad statement, bearing in mind all the health benefits and lovely nutrients these lovely little Nibs contain.
One of the reasons for this is that they possess all of the benefits of dark chocolate, but none of the pitfalls (such as the sugar).
I get mine from various sources waitrose.com, revital.com, hollandandbarratt.com – they are quite widely available now.
So What Are Cocoa Nibs?
Cocoa nibs are pure cocoa beans, chopped into small pieces. Essentially, when someone eats cacao nibs, they are eating 100% cocoa beans.
Cocoa farmers harvest cocoa pods from the cocoa tree. The beans are then removed from their pods, fermented and dried out in the sunshine for several days.
The beans can then be either left in their natural raw state or roasted to add a fuller flavour.
The grinding of the beans into smaller mass is what is called ‘nibs’. Sugars and refined carbohydrates break down into glucose but fibres don’t. As a result, one does not experience the blood sugar spike with fibres as with sugars and carbohydrates.
In a high carbohydrate meal, fib
Processed cocoa or chocolate powder that has been roasted tends to disintegrate larger amounts of antioxidants and flavones (the things that keep you young and healthy). 60% to 90% of the original antioxidants in cacao are lost through common “Dutch processing”. Dutch processing was developed in the early 19th Century for the purpose of reducing the taste of bitterness and darkening the colour.
Both organic and non-organic chocolate is heavily processed, using toxic pesticides and fumigation chemicals, containing genetically modified (GMO) products.
Dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa solids is considered a superfood. However, cacao nibs are far more superior, depending on how it has been treated from its origin of the Theorem Cacao Tree. Cacao nibs are in fact the beans after it has been roasted, removed from its husk and broken down into smaller pieces.
The chocolate we enjoy from sweet shops all begins as cacao nibs that are ground to become Chocolate, as we know it.
Essentially the cacao nib undergoes heavy processing, having additional ingredients added to the raw cacao powder turning it into the chocolate we are commercially familiar with; roasted cocoa, milk, sugar, are among the most common ingredients.
A Bounty Of Benefits
We only get the optimum health benefits from raw cacao, the cacao nib, keeping it raw or roasted to preserve the superpower health benefits.
Provides Feel-Good Chemicals
Cacao nibs prompt the brain to release a feel-good hormone called serotonin; (see my article Serotonin here) they also contain an amino acid, anandamide, often referred to as the “bliss molecule” – who couldn’t do with a bit more bliss in their life? – and the compound phenylethylamine. Phenethylamine triggers the release of endorphins and other happy chemicals in the brain. These brain chemicals elevate mood and stabilise it, (especially good during a woman’s menstrual cycle, which is why we probably all run out to the shop for Chocolate at that time of the month – right?).
Cardiovascular System and Heart Protection
Cacao nibs contain Flavanoids, which are anti-inflammatory antioxidants that protect the heart and the arteries in your heart and brain. Flavonoids thin the blood and prevent clots. They help prevent heart disease, stroke, lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Cacao also contains over 700 compounds and the complex antioxidant Polyphenol, which together lowers LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raises HDL, “good” cholesterol. In fact, cacao is actually better at protecting your heart than any heart drug on the market. Mother Nature really knows her stuff right?
Prevents Premature Aging
Polyphenols protect our hearts in the same way antioxidants found in red wine and green tea does. Polyphenols protect cells from oxidation, keeping us feeling and looking young.
The cacao nib contains MAO, which is a natural appetite suppressant. MAO can be found in many weight loss products. Naturally occurring MAO allows serotonin to continue circulating at a higher rate than other appetite suppressants.
Cortisol causes fat retention. Cacao nibs reduce cortisol in the bloodstream, raising fat-burning and improving guttural microbial activity.
Prevents Tooth Decay
The crystalline extract found in Cacao Nibs strengthens tooth enamel is strengthened by crystalline extract found in cacao nibs more effectively than fluoride, effectively preventing cavities.
High in Fibre
There are approximately 9 grams of fibre per 28 grams of Cacao Nibs.
This stimulates the bowels and your digestive enzymes, but fibre is also important for keeping your blood glucose levels stable and your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Thanks to the magnesium found in cacao, eating it raises energy levels and reduces fatigue. Cacao is one of the highest natural sources of magnesium. Magnesium also fights type II diabetes and osteoporosis and naturally lowers blood pressure. Magnesium is vital to over 300 functions in the body, including controlling blood glucose, synthesising proteins and regulating blood pressure.
Cacao Nibs contain Potassium, which keeps our cardiovascular system healthy and has been proven to help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of arthritis, stroke, heart disease and cancer.
So, instead of picking up a chocolate bar, even one which says it has 70+% cocoa, why not snack on cacao nibs instead, or add them to your morning smoothie or juice.
You can find a plethora of recipes, which include them, online, and they are even good straight out of the bag (although you may need to become accustomed to the slightly bitter taste, you get used to it when knowing how good they are for you).
I simply adore these nutty little nibs of nutrition and you will see quite a lot of my Juicy Lucy’s Protein Balls contain Cacao Nibs – for all of the reasons above.