January 15, 2022

What are cacao nibs, and why are they absolutely awesome?

Fascinating

Intro

You've heard of them. Cocoa Nibs are growing in popularity as more people discover their reported superfood benefits. But what are these nibs, and why are they so awesome

What are cocoa nibs

Cocoa nibs come from the Theobroma Cocoa Tree that grows in a narrow band around 20° of latitude from the equator known as the "Cocoa Belt." This region offers the perfect growing condition for the trees as it is hot tropical with ample rainfall, has excellent soil drainage. In addition to the hot and wet climate, the trees also require an abundance of shade and are often grown near larger fruit trees like mango. 

The Cocoa Trees grow football-shaped fruit pods containing Cocoa Beans, technically the tree's seeds. The beans grow in the pod surrounded by a white flesh-like pulp called baba. Once ripe, farmers harvest the pods. The pods are then cut open, and the beans and the pulp are removed and readied for fermentation and drying. Fermentation is the essential process that creates the chemical compounds we associate with the sweet chocolate flavor we all love.

Next, the beans are roasted and cracked. Roasting beans is a delicate art. Time and temperature are critical in bringing out the recognizable chocolate flavor. In addition, roasting cocoa beans at high temperatures eliminates the fermentation process's byproducts, including bacteria, mold, and fungi that could cause illness. Source

Once cocoa beans finish the roasting process, they get cracked, and the shells are removed by winnowing. Winnowing essentially blows the light, flaky shell off the bean to separate the two. The shells get discarded, the cocoa meat is collected, and the result is cocoa nibs.

Cocoa Nib Nutrition 1oz at a glance 

  • Calories 130
  • Total Carbohydrate 10.0g
  • Dietary Fiber 9.0g
  • Total Fat 12.0g
  • Saturated Fat 7.0g
  • Protein 4.0g
  • Vitamin K 2.4 mcg

Minerals Amounts Per Selected Serving

  • Calcium 20.0 mg
  • Iron 1.1 mg
  • Magnesium 64.0 mg
  • Phosphorus 90.0 mg
  • Potassium 210mg
  • Sodium 0.0mg
  • Zinc 0.9 mg
  • Copper 0.5mg
  • Manganese 0.5mg
  • Selenium 2.1mcg

Benefits of cocoa nibs on health

Cocoa nibs contain many minerals you may not be getting regularly. For example, micronutrients like magnesium play an essential role in supporting hundreds of chemical reactions in the human body and help fight against (depression, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, migraines) and more.

Anti-inflammatory

Cocoa Nibs contain certain anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown to help reduce the occurrence of certain cancers, heart disease, depression, and arthritis. Source

Blood sugar

Cocoa nibs are high in blood sugar-stabilizing antioxidants. Cocoa nibs also contain no added sugar. In addition, cocoa flavanols may improve glucose homeostasis by slowing carbohydrate digestion and absorption in the gut. Source

Brain Function

Cocoa Nibs contain compounds that increase blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow helps with memory, reaction time, and problem-solving. A brain that is getting a good blood flow is at a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia. Source

Buying Cocoa Nibs

Cocoa Nibs are readily available. Most grocery stores sell a variety of nib. However, you should find a more comprehensive array of higher-end nibs at grocery stores focusing on organic or whole food products. You can find a wide variety of nibs online too. As always, we recommend buying directly from a chocolate maker if you are able. 

What do cocoa nibs taste like

Cocoa Nibs taste like extremely dark chocolate. There is no sugar added to these little nibs; therefore, they won't be enjoyable to all. They are an acquired taste for sure, but hey, we didn't like espresso when we were little either. 

Best ways to use cocoa nibs

Since Cocoa nibs are a bit on the intensely bitter side, they're often paired with something on the sweeter side. You can add them to smoothies, salads, cereal, and yogurt. You can also bake them into cookies, muffins, and loaves of bread. Also, mix cocoa nibs with nuts and granola to make energy bars. You can also use cocoa nibs to crust meats for adventurous cooks or create sauces like Mole and Barbeque. 

Now that you've read this post, you know exactly what Cocoa Nibs are and why they're awesome. Ready to learn more? Browse our collection of Chocolate articles!

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