What are the Best Cacao Nibs Brands To Buy in 2017?

Most of us love chocolate bars, but we know that they’re full of unhealthy ingredients. The good news is that there is a way to satisfy your chocolate craving while also reaping health benefits.

Cacao nibs are chocolate in its purest form—dried and fermented cacao beans. In this article I’m going to take a deeper look into the health benefits of cacao and help you to choose the best cacao nibs.

Who Can Benefit From Cacao Nibs?

Cacao nibs are unlike vitamins, in the sense that they’re not required for your body to function. However, cacao nibs do contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and natural compounds which may be beneficial for health.

Cacao nibs can be used as a natural remedy for many illnesses and also as a preventative measure.

One popular use for cacao nibs is weight loss (source). Since cacao nibs have a high fiber content, they make you feel full and eat less. Of course, their high fiber content makes cacao nibs useful for relieving constipation too.

Cacao nibs have been shown to help treat high blood pressure, fight anemia and alleviate depression (source). If you are suffering from any of these conditions, cacao nibs could be a great natural remedy to try.

Cacao nibs may also be helpful in prevention of heart disease, cancer, stroke and arthritis (source).

What Cacao Nibs Do

Cacao nibs clearly have many health benefits. This is because they contain hundreds of phytochemicals (with antioxidant properties), vitamins and minerals (source).

Fighting Free Radicals

Cacao nibs contain high levels of antioxidant flavonoids and catechins, which help to fight off free radicals (source). You may know that free radicals can be dangerous when present in high amounts in the body. They have been linked to cell damage and DNA mutations—which may lead to chronic diseases like cancer and atherosclerosis (source).

The more cacao is processed, the less antioxidant power it has. This is why it’s important to consume raw (unprocessed) cacao nibs.

Weight Loss

As previously mentioned, cacao nibs are high in fiber which makes you feel full so you won’t eat as much. This makes it a good alternative to sweet snacks if you are trying to lose weight.

The antioxidants found in cacao have also been shown to reduce fat cell production in rats (source). More research is needed to see if this is also applicable to humans, but it is promising.

Prevention of Cognitive Decline

The flavonoids found in raw cacao nibs help to prevent cognitive decline through a number of mechanisms, including protecting neurons from damage, reducing neuroinflammation and promoting learning (source).

Boosting Mood

Cacao nibs contain analogues of anandamide, a lipid which has the shape of the THC molecule (source). They also contain compounds that preserve anandamide by preventing its breakdown (source). These properties may cause cacao to produce mild blissful feelings.

However, most of cacao’s mood-boosting effects are due to its interaction with neurotransmitter systems (source). In short, cacao stimulates the release of endorphins (“feel good” chemicals).

Prevention of Anemia

Raw cacao nibs contain iron, which is needed for red blood cell production (source). If you don’t have enough iron, you may develop anemia, a condition characterized by consistently low levels of red blood cells.

Reduced Risk of Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease

Potassium, magnesium and flavonoids—all found in cacao—help to regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (source).

You can learn even more about the benefits of cacao nibs from this video:

How To Choose The Best Cacao Nibs

With so many cacao nib brands on the market, it can be difficult to make a choice. This is especially true since they all seem very similar. However, there are certain things to pay attention to.

First, you’ll want to check the labels on the package. The label will tell you the ingredients and will contain any allergy warnings. If you’re gluten intolerant, you’ll want to make sure the product is gluten free, for example.

The label will also contain warnings about any unsafe chemicals. For example, some cacao powder products have been found to have high cadmium levels (source). Cadmium is dangerous as it is carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and has been linked to birth defects. The good news is that cacao nibs tend to have lower levels of cadmium than other cacao products.

So, what do the best cacao nibs look like?

They’ll have little to no sugar or artificial sweeteners. They’ll also be organic, chemical-free, from a high-quality source and hand-picked.

It’s important that the cacao nibs are as unprocessed as possible because heat reduces the beneficial nutrients found in them.

Our Picks for the Best Cacao Nibs

Below you’ll find my reviews for five top cacao nib brands to help you make an informed choice.

Quality

Price

Our rating

Terrasoul Superfoods offers one of the best priced, high quality cacao nibs you’ll find on the market. Like the others I’ve reviewed so far, they are USDA certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. They are also processed at a low temperature and come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

What sets these cacao nibs apart from the other brands we’ve seen so far is that they come from Criollo Beans. This is a high quality cacao bean which lacks bitterness and is often used in luxury chocolates (source). Not surprisingly, many users rave that this brand’s cacao nibs are delicious. The only downside is that there may be some shells in the package.

Pros


  • USDA certified organic
  • Made from Criollo Beans, known for high quality
  • Fair Trade, raw, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan
  • Maintains low-temperature processing to ensure the full raw benefits of the nibs
  • Backed by a 30-day 100% money back satisfaction guarantee
  • Good price

Cons


  • Some shells

Quality

Price

Our rating

These cacao nibs from Viva Naturals are also organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. I like that it is made from high quality Criollo beans. Viva Naturals takes pride in this, claiming that the cacao beans used in their nibs come from highly elevated regions of Peru. This results in products with little to no impurities.

It’s good to know Viva Naturals has tested their products for heavy metals (including cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic) and have found safe or untraceable amounts. This is a product I would feel safe giving to my kids.

Again, since these cacao nibs are made from Criollo beans, they lack the bitter taste often associated with cacao. In fact, many users say this is the best tasting raw cacao nibs they’ve had. Unfortunately, though, some users complain that this brand of cacao nibs does contain a large amount of shells.

Pros


  • QAI certified organic raw cacao nibs
  • Non-GMO
  • Made from Criollo Beans
  • Gluten-free
  • Fair trade
  • Minimally processed at low temperatures to maintain nutrients and flavor
  • Harvested from high elevations and slowly fermented by Peruvian farmers
  • Low levels of heavy metals
  • May be better tasting than most brands

Cons


  • Many shell and stem pieces in bag
  • May be hard to chew

Quality

Price

Our rating

This package of raw, organic cacao nibs is brought to you by Healthworks. They are also USDA certified organic and minimally processed to conserve their active compounds. These cacao nibs are hand harvested and come from small, sustainable Peruvian farms. This is great since cacao has been cultivated in Peru for thousands of years and Peruvian cacao is noted for its flavor. The nibs are also disinfected to lower microbiological contamination and the product does not have any added sugar.

I like that this brand offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. That shows they care about quality and it gives me peace of mind to know that my money is not going to go to waste.

The most common complaint about this brand’s cacao nibs is that it has too many shells. However, users say that once you sort through the shells, the cacao nibs are flavorful and are good for boosting energy.

Pros


  • USDA certified organic raw cacao nibs
  • Pure, raw, and low heat processed
  • Hand harvested and processed on small Peruvian farms
  • 30-day 100% satisfaction promise allowing for refunds or replacement

Cons


  • Many shells

Quality

Price

Our rating

These dark chocolate cacao nibs by Gerbs are allergen-free and non-GMO. Though these cacao nibs do not contain any artificial flavors or preservatives, they do contain pure cane sugar.

This may be good if you can’t stand the bitter taste of raw cacao, however we all know that sugar can have negative effects on health when consumed in large amounts. They may be good as a snack for the kids, in small amounts though.

Pros


  • Allergen-free (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free)
  • No artificial flavors, no preservatives
  • Non-GMO
  • Tastes good

Cons


  • Contains pure cane sugar, may be too sweet for some

Quality

Price

Our rating

Navitas Organics offers two 16-ounce pouches of organic cacao nibs. They are minimally processed, certified USDA organic, kosher, non-GMO, vegan and gluten-free—all good news. The company is also known for working with small farms that use sustainable methods (source).

On the surface, Navitas Organics seems like a great brand. Their cacao nibs also have one of the highest levels of flavonoids. However, according to ConsumerLabs, it contains cadmium (thus the package comes with a warning label in California) (source). The cacao nibs have less cadmium than the cacao powders, though.

On the upside, users praise this product for being free from shell pieces and very flavorful. Here’s what Navitas has to say about it, you can make your own mind up.

Pros


  • Certified USDA organic
  • Gluten-free, kosher
  • Non-GMO, and tested for micro-contaminants
  • Processed at low temperatures to maintain benefits
  • Grown on small organic cacao farms in Peru
  • High in flavonoids

Cons


  • High cadmium concentration
  • May be hard to chew
  • May taste bitter to some
  • Bad smell

Conclusion

Out of these five cacao nib brands, my top pick would be Terrasoul Superfoods.

Their cacao nibs are USDA certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. They are also processed at a low temperature to ensure that the beneficial nutrients are preserved. I like that they are made from high quality Criollo beans (which taste great) and come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Though they come with some shells, they are very low priced and safe to consume (which is my top concern).

Helen Sanders
 

Chief editor here at Health Ambition, I'm a proud mother of two passionate about nutrition and ways to live healthier with more energy!

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