What Are Cacao Nibs? Nutrition, Benefits, and Culinary Uses

What are cacao nibs?

Cacao (Theobroma cacahonta) is a tree native to South America. It grows in tropical forests and it’s cultivated in many countries including the United States. The cocoa bean contains approximately 70% of the world’s supply of cocoa beans. Cocoa beans contain a high amount of fat and sugar, but they have been used for centuries as food and medicine.

Raw cacao beans are not considered edible because they contain very little water content. They must be processed into chocolate before eating them.

Raw cacao beans contain no fiber or other nutrients, so they cannot be eaten without processing them first. However, if the beans are roasted and ground up, then the resulting powder can be consumed as a snack or added to smoothies.

How much cacao nibs per day?

One cup of raw cacao powder provides approximately 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.5 grams of fat. One teaspoon contains 0.3 gram of carbohydrate and 0.1 gram of fat. These values are approximate due to the small amounts present in these foods; however, they provide enough energy for most adults during their daily activities. A serving size is one ounce (28 gm).

In addition, the consumption of raw cacao nibs provides various health benefits. It contains magnesium and selenium, both of which are important in various metabolic reactions and the functioning of antioxidant enzymes.

Furthermore, these ingredients promote heart health and boost immunity. In general, the main health benefit of raw cacao is due to antioxidant activity. Antioxidants prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to cell damage and increase the risk of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

What is cacao nibs caffeine?

In a 28 gm. serving of raw cacao nibs, there are around 2.2 to 3.4 milligrams of caffeine. This value depends on the type of cacao bean and when it was harvested. Cacao beans contain very little caffeine when they are first harvested, and their caffeine content increases as they start to dry out or age.

How to use raw cacao nibs in recipes?

Cacao nibs can be used in a variety of desserts and sweet treats. They have a crunchy, nuttier taste compared to regular chocolate, so they are perfect for making chocolate covered berries, adding to trail mixes, sprinkling on desserts, or mixing in cakes and brownies. Cacao nibs are also great for making hot chocolate or drinking as a tea. Most of the fat in raw cacao nibs is unsaturated, so it is not as fattening as other nuts and seeds. They can also be used to make hot cocoa or iced chocolate drinks.

Can you eat cacao nibs everyday?

Cacao beans in general are created from the same food allergen, called theobroma. Common food allergen symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and itchy skin. Cacao beans contain anandamide and phenylethylamine, psychoactive compounds that are similar to the natural cannabinoids found in cannabis. They can have a mood-elevating effect when consumed in large amounts. Theobromine is the main active ingredient in cacao. It is a mild stimulant of the nervous system. It dilates blood vessels and increases urine production. While large amounts of theobromine can be toxic to pets and other mammals, the irritation effects are not usually seen in humans until a much higher level has been reached.

It is safe to have raw cacao nibs on a regular basis. However, people with existing heart conditions, hypertension, anxiety disorders, or any other type of mental health issues may find that the consumption of raw cacao nibs worsens their symptoms.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume too many, as the nutrients and psychoactive compounds could act as a toxin and cause harm to an unborn or newborn child. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.

Why are cacao nibs expensive?

Cacao beans are one of the most expensive foods in the world. This is because it takes a lot of time and effort to harvest them. On the other hand, they can be grown in less fertile land that can’t grow common crops such as wheat or maize. They also contain many more antioxidants and nutrients than common foods, so they are beneficial for a healthy diet.

How long are cacao nibs shelf stable?

Cacao beans do not have an expiry date, just a best before date. Once a package of raw cacao nibs has been opened, it should be thrown out after six months to prevent the growth of toxic mold and bacteria. Properly stored cacao nibs can last for up to two years without losing any of its nutritional value or flavor.

Sources & references used in this article:

From aphrodisiac to health food: A cultural history of chocolate by LE Grivetti – Karger Gazette, 2005 – misc.karger.com

How to Eat Chocolate Every Day for Big Health Benefits by RW Fitness – reesewoods.com

Chocolate and medicine: Dangerous liaisons? by D Lippi – Nutrition, 2009 – Elsevier

Food of the gods: cure for humanity? A cultural history of the medicinal and ritual use of chocolate by TL Dillinger, P Barriga, S Escárcega… – … of nutrition, 2000 – academic.oup.com