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.
What Cacao Nibs Do
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.
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).
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
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.
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).