Updated: Mar 17, 2022
What are cacao nibs?
Whether you are happy and in the mood to celebrate or had a tough break-up and want to hold on to something for comfort, a nice bar of chocolate is always there for you. But masked behind its sweet flavors and heart-shaped boxes are saturated fats and the trigger points of cardiovascular diseases. As a chocoholic, one would wonder if chocolates have healthy alternatives. Presenting, Cacao Nibs- the key ingredient of processed chocolate.
Cacao nibs are crushed cacao beans. These are obtained from seed pods of the Theobroma tree. Nibs are made out of dried and fermented beans which are ultimately crushed. These beans may or may not be roasted. Cacao was initially cultivated in South America. A favorite of the Aztecs and the Mayans, cacao was consumed with spices and vanilla. Currently, Ghana and The Ivory Coast of Africa are the highest producers of cacao worldwide.
Often called “Nature’s Chocolate Chips” cacao nibs have a texture and body similar to coffee beans when roasted. The flavor profile of nibs is complex, bitter, and unsweetened. Roasting cacao makes it taste nuttier and more chocolatey all the while washing away the bitter tones of it. That said, it is easy to confuse cacao nibs with rustic coffee at the surface level but they have some major differences.
Could They Have Bean Cousins?
The basic characteristics of rustic coffee and cacao nibs are awfully similar. They’re both nutty and bitter to taste, they generally get roasted, and they look awfully similar too. Are they cousins? No. Let’s get to the root of this. Both the beans are products of different plants. While cacao comes from Theobroma Trees’ seed pods, coffee is collected from coffee plants’ cherry-like fruits.
When roasted, cacao beans do not sweeten while coffee beans caramelize their sugar. In the bigger picture, both of them are the heroes of different stories. Cacao nibs also contain caffeine but at levels significantly lesser than rustic coffee. Coffee, on the one hand, is a stimulant. Its antioxidants work as a fuel to keep our motors running. On the other hand, cacao has tryptophan content that increases serotonin levels, making you feel calm as the ocean.
The flavor profile is not the only aspect that these nibs have in abundance. Cacao nibs are superfoods. Now you might wonder what a superfood is. Well, this marketing term is used to define foods that are loaded with nutritional value and low on calories. Processed the least among the other cacao products in the market, these are packed with impressive amounts of nutrition.
Theobroma is a Greek word that translates to “food of the Gods”. Rightfully so as they are not only delicious but high in protein and fiber but also low in sugar. They are excellent plant-based sources of iron and zinc. Cacao nibs are the best sources of magnesium which our usual diets lack. Not convinced yet? A quick tour of the benefits of these crushed beans will help you out.
Reasons to include Cacao Nibs in your diet
Chocolates are known to be mood-enhancers. A sufficient dose of your favorite bar of chocolate, dark or not, can effectively change your mood drastically. It is all possible due to cacao nibs. Much like the member of a group who does most of the work, cacao nibs are generally not given the credits for this.
Lifting Your Spirits Up
Cacao nibs are excellent sources of antioxidants and healthy fats. These, coupled with other compounds, shoot your serotonin and dopamine levels. Flavonoids present in cacao nibs are much more effective than the ones in wine and can significantly lower levels of stress. Include these in your meals and maybe you could have a happier and less stressful diet control.
Heart Wants What it Wants
Introduce cacao nibs to your heart and start a healthy relationship with yourself. A good portion of cacao nibs can increase healthy cholesterol levels, decreasing your chances of strokes or heart attacks. The potassium and flavonoids of cacao nibs that lower blood pressure and other heart diseases.
Cacao nibs are rich in fiber that encourages healthy and smooth digestion and prevents hemorrhoids. Like any other fibrous food, cacao nibs can also help you in times of constipation. Glory to the food of the Gods! Having a clear gut no longer involves soda or other bubbly solutions.
It’s Bloody Healthy!
Cacao beans help in improving blood circulation. It increases blood circulation to the brain, develops its functions, and prevents neurodegenerative diseases from developing. Ultimately, it results in better mental performance and reduces the risks of Alzheimer’s. Systematic blood circulation to the muscles also prevents cramps.
Not Too Late to Get it on Your Plate
Chocolate is a unanimous childhood classic. From expecting good behavior to rewarding good grades, chocolate bars were used as a bribe. Despite being everybody’s favorite sweet delight, it always stood at the top of the food pyramid. These processed cubes of excess sugar and milk were up to no good. But what if someone told you that you could retain a part of it now?
Cacao nibs are superfoods. Incorporating these little grains of goodness definitely healthify diets. Wondering how to do that? Well, think no more as these crushed beans are versatile. The easiest way of consumption is a light roast. This process cuts down on the bitter tones of it and makes it more crunchy.
Cacao nibs can also be used as a garnish. Sprinkle two spoonfuls on your oatmeal, yogurt bowls, or ice cream. You can also use it in a beverage like smoothies or hot cocoa. Do you love coffee? Mix it up with cacao nibs and you have made yourself mocha. You could also use it as a spice in your curries and add earthy flavours to it.
Cacao beans were introduced to Europe by the Spaniards. Known for its medicinal purposes, cacao took no time in becoming a favourite in the west. Historically, it was the food of the royals and generally expensive. Cacao beans retain their expensive rates even now.
You would wonder why people pay so much for crushed beans which may or may not be roasted. Each Theobroma tree consists of 12 pods which can yield a maximum of nibs, only enough to make a maximum of 9 bars of chocolate. This is probably the only drawback of the beans. Although, the beans and their nutritional value make up for every penny.