Cacao nibs are essentially raw chocolate. They are pieces of cocoa bean that are hulled and prepared for use in chocolate bars and other chocolate applications. Nibs, on their own, taste vaguely similar to roasted coffee beans. They have a more compound flavor, but overall coffee beans will taste more interesting on their own. Cacao nibs are used to extract dark chocolate notes, which make them a popular addition to many recipes.
Before cacao is processed into milk chocolate, it is a nutritional powerhouse. It actually increases the function of the cardiovascular system. Cacao nibs contain the necessary nutrients for the heart and can also manipulate emotional factors of an individual. Some studies have shown that there is an ingredient in cocoa beans that helps minimize the ranges of cholesterol and reduces high blood pressure.
Magnesium, in particular, keeps the heart strong and increases the performance of the cardiovascular system. In addition, it decreases blood clotting and has a lasting affect that will continue to reduce the risk of blood clots in the body.
Raw cacao nibs contain antioxidants amounting to about three times more compared with the level of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea. Cocoa beans comprise a chemical compound named Polyphenol. Polyphenols are also important in reducing the possibility of cardiovascular disease and some varieties of cancer. Antioxidants are useful in the prevention of malignant cells and repair damaged cells in the body which in turn reduces the risk of many cancers. They may also be responsible for minimizing cholesterol levels. With all of these health benefits, why wouldn’t you incorporate cacao nibs into your diet?
They are also successful anti-depressants consisting of some endogenous neurotransmitter chemicals transfering neurons target cells. There are three neurotransmitters contained in cocoa beans including phenylethylamine, serotonin and dopamine.
Neurotransmitters are well thought-out as mood enhancers. Phenylethylamine can be described as a common element that creates good results in human brain chemistry and also is one of the main reasons why a person falls in love. Conversely, dopamine and serotonin flowing through the circulatory system reduces the symptoms of depression and helps create a good feeling emotionally and mentally.
So, enjoy some chocolate! But, to receive the benefits of cacao, be sure the chocolate you enjoy is at least 70% cacao. Avoid milk chocolate as all of the healthy benefits have been processed out. Raw cacao nibs can be added to a homemade trail mix or ground and sweetened with agave nectar for a smooth, delicious chocolate sauce. In its raw form, cacao has many more health benefits.
Try this simple, healthy dessert made with raw cacao. Grind cacao nibs in a coffee grinder for this recipe or you can use already powdered raw cacao, which can be found in healthy food stores such as Whole Foods.
Chocolate and Cashew Truffles
1 cup of cashews processed in a food processor or powerful blender until smooth (you can also use store-bought cashew butter)
2 tablespoons of raw honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 dates (pitted and soaked in pure water for at least 4 hours)
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut for coating
Put all of the ingredients except for the coconut in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Use your hands to roll the mixture into small balls approximately the size of a golf ball. Then pour the shredded coconut into a shallow bowl and roll the balls in it to coat. Place the balls on a plate and refrigerate until firm. Enjoy!