The science-backed health benefits of organic cacao nibs

The science-backed health benefits of organic cacao nibs

Chocolate is one of the world’s most popular treats and a well-loved flavor. Known for its sweetness and rich, creamy taste, this addictive food is often eaten on its own or used in a wide variety of recipes.

Chocolate is a versatile ingredient and an enjoyable snack because it comes in different varieties. There’s dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and white chocolate, to name a few.

But commercial chocolates like these undergo a lot of processing during production. While this improves the taste of the final product, it takes away much of the food’s potential health benefits. In fact, the addition of sugar and the reduction in their cacao content are what makes many chocolate varieties so unhealthy. [1] 

Cacao nibs and why they’re so much better than chocolate 

Chocolate production starts with cacao pods, which are harvested by hand from cacao trees (Theobroma cacao) that grow in Central and South America, West Africa and Southeast Asia. [2] These cacao pods are then split open to obtain their seeds, which are commonly known as cacao beans.

Cacao beans are first fermented for five to eight days then dried for a week before they are shipped to chocolate manufacturers abroad. When they arrive in factories, the dried cacao beans are broken down by machines to produce raw cacao nibs. The cracked brittle shells are then separated from the nibs through a process called winnowing. [3]

Cacao nibs are the crunchy, crushed bits of meat from dried cacao beans. Cocoa powder is made by roasting cacao nibs and pressing them to remove their fat content – which is known as cocoa butter. [4]

When melted, cacao nibs turn into chocolate liquor. Depending on the chocolate variety, manufacturers can add varying amounts of sugar, fat or milk to chocolate liquor to adjust its taste and turn it into the chocolate bars we know today.

Although not as popular as chocolate, cacao nibs are also sold in stores and are considered an antioxidant-packed healthy food. Raw cacao nibs, which refer to unroasted cacao nibs, are the purest form of chocolate and also the healthiest. This is because they contain high amounts of essential nutrients and beneficial phytonutrients. [5]

Unprocessed, raw cacao nibs are naturally low in sugar and rich in fiber and protein. A 28-gram (g) serving of premium, organic raw cacao nibs can provide the following macronutrients: [6]

  • Protein, 8% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Total fat, 19% of the DV
  • Dietary fiber, 36% of the DV

The same serving of raw cacao nibs also provides the following micronutrients: [7]

  • Vitamin K, 3% of the DV
  • Calcium, 2 % of the DV
  • Iron, 6% of the DV
  • Magnesium, 16% of the DV
  • Phosphorus, 9% of the DV
  • Potassium, 6% of the DV
  • Zinc, 6% of the DV
  • Copper, 25% of the DV
  • Manganese, 27% of the DV
  • Selenium, 3% of the DV

In comparison, commercial chocolates, particularly sweet chocolate varieties, contain almost negligible amounts of these nutrients because of additional processing and their lower cacao content. [8] 

The health benefits of raw cacao nibs, according to science* 

On top of essential nutrients, raw cacao nibs boast an abundance of bioactive phytonutrients. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, cacao is loaded with polyphenolic compounds that possess a wide range of health-supporting properties. [9] The most abundant of these compounds are flavonoids, which are well-known for their antioxidant activities.

Raw cacao nibs are particularly rich in one type of flavonoids known as flavanols, or flavan-3-ols. These powerful compounds are also present in many other superfoods, such as green tea, apples and grapes.

Flavanols are also referred to as catechins, which are the most readily absorbable flavonoids found in foods. [10] The main catechins in raw cacao nibs are (-) epicatechin and (+) catechin; gallocatechin (GC) and epigallocatechin (EGC), two of the four main catechins found in tea, have also been detected, albeit in smaller amounts.

(-) Epicatechin is known for its ability to support the healthy functions of blood vessels. [11] Meanwhile, supplementation with (+) catechin and quercetin – another flavonoid present in raw cacao nibs – has been found to support healthy antioxidant levels. [12][13] GC and EGC have been shown to support healthy bone formation. [14]

Aside from these catechins, raw cacao nibs also contain procyanidins, which, according to research, are the main flavonoids responsible for cacao nibs’ antioxidant benefits. In a study published in the journal ACS Symposium Series, researchers reported that the procyanidins in cacao can neutralize harmful free radicals, which can cause oxidative damage. This action can support healthy blood vessels. [15]

Consuming raw cacao nibs is also good for your brain. This is because your brain uses plenty of oxygen, which makes it susceptible to free radical damage. [16] Free radicals are formed when oxygen is split into single atoms with unpaired electrons, making them highly unstable. [17]

In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers confirmed that flavonoid-rich foods like cacao can support healthy brain functions especially in older adults. [18] As antioxidants, flavonoids can stabilize free radicals by giving up some of their electrons. This helps protect brain cells from the disruptive activities of these unstable molecules.

In addition, a study published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews found that the flavanols in cacao nibs accumulate in brain regions involved in learning, memory and focus. [19] This discovery further explains how raw cacao nibs can support healthy brain function.

Aside from antioxidant flavonoids, raw cacao nibs also contain methylxanthine compounds like caffeine and theobromine. As a natural stimulant, caffeine can help stimulate the muscles in your colon to support the movement of its contents through your digestive tract. [20]

Meanwhile, the fiber in raw cacao nibs can support regular bowel movements. [21] The dual action of caffeine and fiber makes raw cacao nibs a great food for helping to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Both caffeine and fiber can also do wonders for your metabolic health. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, caffeine can support a healthy metabolism. [22] Fiber, on the other hand, can help you avoid unhealthy snacking by making you feel full for longer. Thanks to these effects, replacing chocolate with raw cacao nibs can help you achieve reasonable weight management goals when you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Caffeine and theobromine also offer skin benefits because they help neutralize free radicals, which are known to break down collagen. [23] Collagen is a structural protein that provides firmness and strength to your skin. [24] Together with the other antioxidants in cacao nibs, caffeine and theobromine can help you maintain healthy, glowing skin.

In addition, caffeine and theobromine can support mental clarity and alertness by binding to adenosine receptors in the brain. Research shows that adenosine, a brain chemical that promotes sleep, slows down the activity of brain cells. By competing with adenosine, the caffeine and theobromine exert an opposite effect, which can help perk you up. [25][26]

Eating raw cacao nibs can also have a positive effect on your mood. This is because raw cacao contains anandamide, a chemical that’s naturally produced in the brain. [27] According to a study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, anandamide can help uplift mood by supporting healthy serotonin and norepinephrine levels. [28] Both of these brain chemicals are involved in mood regulation. [29][30]

To recap, here are the 7 wonderful health benefits of switching to raw cacao nibs:*

  • Help protect against harmful free radicals
  • Support healthy cardiovascular function
  • Support healthy brain function
  • Support healthy digestive function
  • Support sensible weight management plans
  • Support healthy, glowing skin
  • Naturally uplift mood 

Where to find pure, raw organic cacao nibs 

Raw organic cacao nibs are one of the best sources of antioxidants you can add to your diet. Unlike heavily processed chocolate varieties, raw organic cacao nibs undergo very little processing, which ensures that they also retain the rich essential nutrient and phytonutrient content of raw cacao beans. Because raw organic cacao nibs are truly nutrient-dense, they are far superior to any type of chocolate and offer some amazing health benefits.

To help you experience the health-supporting properties of this delicious superfood, the Health Ranger Store is bringing you Groovy Bee® Organic Raw Cacao Nibs. This versatile snack/ingredient is a tasty way to boost your intake of antioxidant flavanols, essential micronutrients and other potent phytonutrients that can support healthy heart, brain and digestive functions, as well as a positive mood.

Groovy Bee® Organic Raw Cacao Nibs are also packed with fiber and protein, and are carefully sourced from high-quality cacao grown under strict organic standards by our trusted suppliers in Peru. We have gone to great lengths to secure a super clean lot since cacao is very efficient at absorbing heavy metals like lead and cadmium. These toxic metals are often found in low-quality cacao products, and consumption of these can harm your brain, kidneys, lungs, bones and heart in the long run.

Groovy Bee® Organic Raw Cacao Nibs contain no GMOs, preservatives, additives or stabilizers, so you can enjoy cacao in its purest form with every bite. They are vegan, non-China, certified Kosher and organic, and lab verified for cleanliness. For your ease of mind, our premium product is also rigorously lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology. You can add our high-quality raw cacao nibs to your favorite recipes or enjoy them as a healthy snack to support your overall health.

Satisfy your chocolate cravings the healthy way by switching to nutritious and delicious raw organic cacao nibs!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not recommended to treat, cure or diagnose any disease.