Cacao means chocolate. What could be better? Well, for some people, not much. And for good reason. For example, cacao nibs health benefits include a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, improved digestion, and increased energy. Cacao boasts some quality nutrients. But, you may ask, what exactly are cacao nibs?
As you likely know, cacao comes from the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree. Though it’s really a nut, we call the seed a cacao bean. And that bean is amazing, packed with phytonutrients like sulfur and magnesium. The nibs are simply cacao beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks, and then broken down into small bits. Think 100% dark chocolate. In raw form, they boast more antioxidants than wine or tea or even blueberries.
Cacao Nibs Health Benefits
1. Maintain Muscle and Nerve Function
Cacao nibs health benefits include proper muscle and nerve function. As a magnesium-rich food, cacao nibs work to maintain healthy muscles and nerves. Cacao nibs contain 272 milligrams of magnesium per 100 grams. The body uses magnesium to help keep the heart rhythm steady, reduce muscle soreness, and prevent cramping. The flavanols in cacao also help to improve muscle structure and enhance nerve function. (1)
2. Aid in Weight Loss and Digestion
This may surprise you. Yes, cacao nibs health benefits actually include the ability to aid in weight loss. You see, cacao is high in healthy fats, yet it also contains fiber. Both help promote satiety. Of course, feeling full longer can help prevent snacking and overeating. What’s even more interesting? Just the smell of dark chocolate helps to promote feelings of satiety. And cacao nibs are 100% dark chocolate! Additionally, as a high-fiber food, cacao nibs health benefits also include improved digestion. The fiber in cacao works to keep the digestive system regular and reduce constipation. This high magnesium content helps with this, too. (2)
3. Prevent Anemia
Anemia refers to a low red blood cell count, which can be caused by many things. Usually anemia occurs when the body is deficient in an important nutrient – iron – but low copper levels can cause problems, too. Cacao nibs health benefits include the ability to help prevent anemia. Not only are cacao nibs fairly high in bioavailable iron, but they are also a sufficient source of copper. So look for symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and insomnia. Cacao nibs are loaded with iron, which makes them a healthy anemia-fighting food. (3)
4. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Cacao nibs are high in disease-fighting antioxidants and packed with phytonutrients. According to a study published in Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, regular intake of plant-derived foods reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. The study found that cocoa nibs health benefits include beneficial effects on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and platelet function. Additionally, eating cacao nibs may increase your nitric oxide, which offers great benefits for the cardiovascular system. (4)
5. Treat Digestive Problems
Cacao nibs health benefits include the ability to treat digestive problems. As noted above, the high fiber content of cacao nibs helps with constipation. But cacao nibs help with the other side of that coin, too. Cacao contains polyphenols which can help inhibit certain intestinal secretions to prevent diarrhea. Specifically, studies have shown that the flavanol compounds present in cacao work to prevent fluid buildup in the small intestine, which is associated with diarrhea. (5)
6. Enhance Mood
Last but certainly not least, cacao nibs health benefits include improved mood and natural energy. Often mood influences how healthy we feel, so this is an important quality. Cacao has the ability to act on the neurotransmitters in the brain that effect mood and behavior. How? It works by stimulating the brain to release certain neurotransmitters, creating feelings of euphoria. Cacao nibs health benefits relating to mood stem from its polyphenols. These chemicals are related to calmness, feelings of content, and improved mood. (6)