If you happen to be a chocoholic, here’s good news for you. Eating chocolate is actually good for health but you have to eat it in the raw form. Raw Cacao nibs are the answer to people who are addicted to chocolate but want to stay healthy at the same time. What is raw cacao? Cacao nibs, extremely rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are obtained from pure cacao beans that grow inside the tropical cacao fruit. All chocolate is in fact made from cacao beans. But once it undergoes several processing techniques, it loses its nutrient content. Cacao used to be highly valued by the Aztecs for many thousands of years. The outstanding flavor and high nutritional profile of raw cacao nibs has earned it the name – “Food of the Gods”. Cacao nibs can be enjoyed as such or added to cookies, ice creams and smoothies.
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Raw cacao nutrition facts
A single ounce serving of raw cacao nibs provides 130 calories and about 12 grams of fat. Out of the total 12 grams of fat, 7 grams are saturated fat. Cacao nibs are absolutely free from cholesterol and trans-fat. It is rich in dietary protein and provides good amounts of protein as well. Raw cacao nibs are an excellent source of antioxidants that helps in protecting against the ill effects of free radicals. In fact, raw cacao is considered to have the highest amount of antioxidants than any other kind of foods. The nibs are also exceptionally high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B complex and minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium. They also contain stimulants such as theobromine and Phenylethylamine that are associated with increasing energy and enhancing your mood.
Raw cacao health benefits
Cacao nibs and cacao beans have been used for hundreds of years in countries like South America and Central America. Raw cacao is believed to be a super food because it is loaded with many nutrients that offer various health benefits. A few of the health benefits of raw cacao nibs are explained below:
Antioxidants in Raw cacao nibs
Raw cacao nibs are high in natural antioxidant chemicals known as flavonoids that promote overall health and protection against several diseases. Flavonoids such as anthocyanidin and epicatechins are found to be high in cacao beans. Studies reveal that cacao has the highest antioxidant properties among other nutritionally rich foods and hence delivers more health benefits. The most important advantage of antioxidants is that they destroy free radicals that are formed in your body as natural by-products of metabolism. These free radicals cause damage to your cells by inducing oxidative stress, damaging DNA and mutating cell components. This process can gradually lead to aging and increase the risk of many diseases like heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants are also helpful in reducing inflammation and in preventing arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. By eliminating the free radicals, antioxidants not only protect you from many diseases but also help you stay young by inhibiting the aging process.
Beautiful skin with Raw cacao nibs
Raw cacao nibs, with its high levels of super antioxidants and nutrients have been found to be extremely beneficial for the health of your skin. The high level of antioxidants in cacao can be considered as the main contributing factor to healthy and beautiful skin. The process of aging is often accelerated by free radicals, environmental pollutants, and sun damage. The flavonoid antioxidants found in raw cacao nib help in slowing down the aging process by providing protection against the above mentioned factors. They also help in improving the texture and appearance of the skin. Raw cacao contains sulfur that helps in relieving skin problems such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. Moreover, it has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in preventing skin infections.
Raw cacao beans good for heart
Raw cacao nibs are high in flavonoid antioxidants that play a significant role in protecting your cardiovascular system. The proanthocyanidin compounds found in cacao is found to help in decreasing the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. When LDL is oxidized, it gets deposited in the form of plaque. Buildup of plaque is extremely dangerous as it can lead to hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. Cacao nibs prevent the accumulation of plaque and lower your risks of heart diseases by inhibiting LDL oxidation. High blood pressure or hypertension is another factor that may lead to heart problems. According to a study of elderly men published in the 2006 issue of “Archives of Internal Medicine”, participants who consumed cacao were found to have lower blood pressure than those who did not.
Raw cacao nibs and weight loss
In addition to providing many disease fighting and protective effects, the consumption of raw cacao nibs may also help you maintain a healthy weight. Cacao nibs are sugar-free and rich in fiber content. Dietary fiber promotes better digestive health and gives you the feeling of fullness, thus assisting in weight management. Cacao beans contain chemicals that can suppress your appetite and reduce your food cravings and hence its consumption is very beneficial when you are trying hard to lose weight.
Cancer cure and Raw cacao
According to The Linus Pauling Institute, the abundance of flavonoid antioxidants found in raw cacao nibs might hinder the growth and development of cancer cells. Studies reveal that the anthocyanidins in cacao helps in reducing the occurrence of chemically induced breast cancer and pancreatic cancer in laboratory animals. Research conducted on human subjects concluded that the active compounds present in cacao might be beneficial in preventing cancer as well as in improving the outcome in patients already suffering from cancer. A study published in the Journal “Molecular Nutrition and Food Research” reveals that raw cacao nibs have the ability to reduce inflammation of digestive system that can sometimes lead to colon cancer.
Raw cacao for brain
According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, drinking two cups of hot chocolate daily may be helpful for older people to maintain healthy brains and to keep sharp thinking abilities. Another study found out that the daily consumption of cocoa flavonoids may enhance brain function and improve mild cognitive impairment. It was also found that flavonoids in cacao products may be beneficial in lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Raw cacao and digestive health
A single ounce serving of raw cacao nibs provides 9 grams or about 36 percentage of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is associated with many health benefits, one of them being regular bowel movements. According to a study published in “Nutrition and Metabolism”, the intake of cacao fiber (as little as 6.6 grams per day) may help in improving your bowel habits. By promoting regular bowel movements cacao helps in preventing constipation and other digestive disorders. Raw cacao nibs also help in improving digestion by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.
Raw cacao nibs and diabetes
Raw cacao nibs contain certain compounds that may help in regulating blood sugar levels and also in improving insulin sensitivity. Antioxidant-rich cacao nibs along with other raw cacao products do not contain added sugars but are high in proanthocyanidins that exhibit a positive effect in lowering the levels of blood glucose. According to research, when cacao extracts that contained 72% polyphenols were given to obese diabetic mice, their blood glucose levels were reduced significantly. The American Diabetes Association suggests that it is safe to add little amounts of cacao with limited sugar to the diet of a diabetic patient. The high level of fiber in cacao is another factor that helps in controlling your blood glucose levels. It is believed that the blood sugar lowering effect of cacao may also be due to the inhibition of starch digesting enzymes in your small intestine by polyphenol procyanidins.
Raw cacao nibs can boost your energy
Raw cacao nibs contain a substance such as theobromine and phenylethylamine that acts as stimulants to the central nervous system stimulant. These substances have similar stimulating effect as caffeine and give you a healthy energy boost. Cacao is rich in magnesium, which is an excellent source of energy that maximizes your use of oxygen in and burn calories.
Raw cacao nibs for physical and mental wellbeing
Raw cacao nibs contain several active components including alkaloids, proteins, leucine, lipase, lysine, and theobromine, all of which work together to enhance both your physical and mental health. Theombromine is a powerful stimulant that helps in stimulating the central nervous system, increasing energy levels, dilating blood vessels and in relaxing smooth muscles. Cacao also contains what are known as the bliss chemicals that improve blood circulation and increase the release of serotonin and other such neurotransmitters in brain, thus helping to enhance your mood and fight off depression.
Raw cacao powder as aphrodisiac
Traditionally it is believed that raw cacao stimulates sexual senses and is listed as natural aphrodisiac. It is believed to contain phytonutrients – “love chemical” which stimulates brain to release dopamine. However there is no scientific evidence to establish such claim.
Look out for various raw cacao recipes – read more for Raw cacao truffles recipes or Raw cacao balls. Raw cacao butter can also be used as an ingredient in your recipe. Look out for various online stores which sell organic raw cacao powder when you think of where to buy raw cacao.
Chocolate ranks high in the list of favorite foods for most people. However, commercial processing, additives and refining methods have also placed chocolate in the category of junk foods. Raw cacao nibs on the other hand are healthy for you as they are natural and reach you without any kind of processing or adulteration. Plus they are jam packed with many health benefitting nutrients that can give a boost to your overall health and possibly help you live a longer life.