I'm not a big fan of dark chocolate. In fact, I'd rather go with no chocolate at all than torturing my taste buds with a chunk of pure bitterness.
Everything with a cacao content higher than 70% is healthy, but one of my credos as a not-so-typical holistic health coach is, no matter how nutritious something is said to be, if you've tried it several times and still don't like it, don't eat it (unless you need it for medical reasons).
Luckily, cacao nibs are different from regular dark chocolate. These "husk-less" roasted cacao beans which have been crushed into little pieces, can be easily combined with other flavors, and taste surprisingly good when added to muesli, smoothies or muffins.
Here are 6 reasons to add cacao nibs to your diet:
1. They're a fantastic source of manganese.
Scientific research has shown that this trace mineral plays a crucial role in improving osteoporosis, arthritis, PMS, diabetes, and epilepsy.
Also, manganese helps the body form connective tissue (think smooth skin), bones and sex hormones, plus it increases your energy and fertility.
2. They're high in copper.
Copper also boosts your immunity, maintains collagen, helps absorb iron and keeps your bones strong. Also good to know: copper is stored in the liver, which means that deficiency symptoms only occur slowly and over time.
3. They're chock-full of magnesium.
1 ounce of cacao nibs provides about 80 milligrams of magnesium, a vital micronutrient which helps keep your stress hormones under control, elevates your mood, removes heavy metals from your body, fights fatigue, prevents heart disease and a lot more.
4. They're a great source of iron, zinc, and potassium.
Iron deficiency is the single most prevalent nutritional deficiency worldwide and comes with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath or lightheadedness.
Poor immunity, poor skin, allergies, or trouble sleeping are just some of the signs of zinc deficiency and digestive disorders, risk of cardiovascular disease, and even cancer are associated with low potassium levels.
All of the above micronutrients are contained in decent amounts in cacao nibs.
5. Cacao nibs are an antioxidant powerhouse
Just like blueberries, cacao nibs are very rich in antioxidants, especially when you have them raw.
Antioxidants help our body neutralize free radicals, and prevent oxidative stress, which can cause severe cell damage and is thought to play a big role in developing cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
6. They contain mood-boosting substances.
Cacao nibs contain several psychoactive substances which account for the pleasurable effects most people feel when eating chocolate.
The main substances are phenylethylamine, which we also produce naturally and makes us feel excited, and anandamide, which has a similarly relaxing effect on our body like marijuana — without making us high.
After fruits and veggies, dark chocolate is considered a major contributor of antioxidants to the American diet. If dark chocolate isn't really your thing, try "hiding" a handful of cacao nibs in your muesli or smoothies.
Just make sure you don't consume them together with cow's milk, which interferes with the absorption of the antioxidants.
Are there any other foods you'd like to know more about? Let me know in the comments below!