8 Health Benefits of Cocoa Nibs

8 Health Benefits of Cocoa Nibs

Posted by Joel Meredith Fath on

Cocoa Nibs: A Superfood Case Study

You may be asking yourself, what is a cocoa nib? And you may also be wondering what about cacao nibs and cacao beans? Why do the names change all the time on chocolate products in the grocery store? Today, we’ll answer all of these questions and clarify the difference between cocoa vs cacao once and for all.

Cocoa nibs are small pieces of crushed cocoa beans, and they offer a variety of health benefits. The difference between cocoa and cacao is a matter of roasting the bean. Cocoa nibs have been roasted and are no longer considered a raw food. The roasting process develops flavors. For example, compare the flavors between eating a raw green apple vs roasted apple sauce. Roasting also ensures the beans are free from any bacterial contamination and provides a safer food product.

Cocoa nibs do not include the shell of the cocoa beans, which is ideal because the health benefits in cocoa are located in the nibs, not the shells. Many major chocolate brands do not separate shells from nib, instead they grind the entire bean. On the contrary, most craft chocolate makers use cocoa nibs that are winnowed with a vacuum chamber to remove shells to ensure you get the highest quality chocolate or cocoa nibs.

Why are cocoa nibs so healthy and why should you include them in your diet? With the rise of cancer in our modern life, foods full of antioxidants help prevent cancer cells from forming and keep our bodies free of inflammation. Our bodies are meant to operate without chronic pain and cocoa is a powerful resource in achieving this state of being.

1. Rich in Antioxidants: Flavonoids

Hot Cocoa with Cinnamon

Cocoa nibs are packed with flavonoids, a natural antioxidant compound found in flowering plants which help protect cells and create the bitter taste found in cocoa. Antioxidants are associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and mental degradation disorders. Cocoa powder and cocoa nibs have more than 10x the amount of antioxidants than commercially available milk chocolate.

2. Improved Heart Health

San Blas Islands, Panama, Chocolate Drink

A 2001 peer-reviewed study on the cocoa consumption of the Kuna Indians of San Blas Islands, Panama found astonishing correlations between heart health and daily doses of cocoa. “The Kuna Indians…consume an average of three 10-ounce cups of cocoa beverage daily, ingesting approximately 1880 mg of antioxidants. The prevalence of hypertension among the Kuna islanders is very low (2.2%) and blood pressure does not increase with age. The population also experiences lower rates of diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, stroke, and cancer than mainland Panamanians.”

3. Enhanced Brain Functions

Chocolate for Brain Health and Computer Work

Cocoa nibs contain compounds, like flavonoids, that have been linked to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of age-related mental decline. They may also promote the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, potentially improving mood and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Our non-stop lifestyles ask a lot of our brains and decision making faculties. Do you have a paper to write today or report to prepare for a meeting? Take a moment and make yourself a brain-enhancing smoothie. Add 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa nibs to your favorite smoothie recipe to kick start your day and get the noggin’ ready for a day’s work.

Our go-to happy brain smoothie recipe is:
1 ripe, organic banana
1 organic apple
8 fl oz of your favorite blending liquid, we like organic coconut milk
2 tbsp cocoa nibs
A touch of honey (optional)

4. Weight Management - Part of a Healthy Diet

Healthy Oatmeal with Banana and Cocoa Nibs

Despite their rich flavor, cocoa nibs are relatively low in calories and contain fiber, which can help promote feelings of fullness and reduce overall calorie intake. Additionally, some research suggests that the flavonoids in cocoa may have a positive impact on metabolism and fat breakdown.

The staff at Moka Origins love using cocoa nibs in their breakfast oatmeal routine. After cooking the oats in water or milk until they are just right—smooth and comforting—we add a sliced ripe banana and sprinkle a generous handful of cocoa nibs on top. The nibs add a delightful crunch and a rich, earthy flavor that contrasts with the sweetness of the banana.

To enhance the flavors even further, add a bit of honey over the bowl and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Or for that extra mile of flavor, stir in a tablespoon of peanut butter. You may find this recipe to be a blend of sweet and bitter, soft and crunchy, warm and inviting. The cocoa nibs not only add new textures to your powerhouse oatmeal but will lift your spirits with their chocolatey flavors.

5. Blood Sugar Regulation

Cocoa Nibs are a Low-Glycemic Food

Cocoa nibs have a low glycemic index, meaning they don't cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This makes them a suitable option for people looking to manage their blood sugar levels, including those with diabetes or those trying to prevent diabetes.

6. Mineral Content

Cocoa nibs are a good source of essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. These minerals play important roles in various bodily functions, including energy production, immune function, and bone health.

7. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is a natural response of the body's immune system to harmful stimuli such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. It's a protective mechanism intended to remove the harmful stimuli and initiate the healing process.

Some research suggests that the flavonoids in cocoa nibs have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Next time you shop for produce at the grocery store or farmers market grab a pint of your favorite berries and sprinkle them with cocoa nibs for an antioxidant super boost!

8. Skin Health

Cocoa Skin Cream

The antioxidants found in cocoa nibs may also benefit the skin by protecting it from oxidative stress and damage from ultraviolet light. Some skincare products contain cocoa extract due to its potential anti-aging and skin-protective properties.

We would love to hear how you use cocoa nibs in your lifestyle and diet. Drop your cocoa nib stories below in our comments section. Keep an eye out for an exciting announcement in the next few weeks about cocoa nibs!

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