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Cacao and Cacao Nibs: Health Benefits and Properties. Did you know this?

Updated on February 5, 2016
Image courtesy of phasinphoto
Image courtesy of phasinphoto
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography

Cacao and Cacao Nibs

If there is something we cannot live without it is chocolate. The natural remedy to all problems of the heart, the chocolate we consume is quite a high amount. It is in almost everything and we love it. Its different tastes, appearances and uses, all make it so special and divine.

We can use it so many different ways in our meals, have small treats of it in tiny desserts and eat as much as we can when we are down in the dumps. We do not give attention to the main ingredient and all these delicious dishes we prepare with chocolate. I am talking about cacao.

Cacaos, mostly found and cultivated in Central and South America, are quite large trees that produce what we know as cocoa beans, which are what we use in the making of chocolate, cocoa mass and powder.

The processing is what really turns cacao into something else, changing its molecular standard and what nutrients it ends up having. Nevertheless, the delicious and sweet taste of it has created a large demand from all over the world since time immemorial. Everybody loved it and wanted it incorporated in their lives, eating it left and right and whatever they could it include it in.

Cakes, syrup, muffins, chocolate alone, brownies, smoothies and so much more were made with these cocoa beans. Have we ever paid attention to the impact this addiction has had on our bodies and well being however? Many of us would think it would all be bad and fattening when it comes to the cocoa beans and their introduction into society, and in a certain sense they would be right, but there is far more to this topic.

Viva Naturals - Organic Cacao Nibs, 1 lb Bag
Viva Naturals - Organic Cacao Nibs, 1 lb Bag

Theobroma: "Food of the Gods"

Criollo cacao is revered as the "Food of the Gods", traditionally used in Mayan ceremonies and rituals to promote vitality and purification. Considered to be nature's chocolate, Viva Labs Raw Cacao Nibs deliver unrivaled flavor and aromatic precursors among all variations of cacao.

The Goodness of Viva Labs Cacao Nibs

Cardiovascular Health

Polyphenols, catechins and procyanidins naturally present in raw cacao promote cardiovascular health by offering defense against the effects of oxidation. These powerful compounds help maintain healthy cholesterol levels within the normal range.

Minerals

Unlike processed chocolate, our cacao retains essential minerals like magnesium, chromium, calcium and iron. An ounce provides roughly 20% of your daily recommended intake of magnesium per day.

 

Cacao: Natural Antioxidant Source

Many of us are unaware of the antioxidants we get when we eat anything with cacao. Perhaps I should specify that there is indeed a difference to be noted and understood. See, cacao is the larger crop from where we get the seeds which are then processed or created into cocoa. Most of us think that either one of them is in charge of all the benefits but the one that we should pay attention to is the raw, untouched seeds not the innumerable creations brought forth with cocoa, who at these point are too filled with carbohydrates and fats to really be healthy.

Raw cacao and cacao nibs bring great benefits with it. These are made by cold pressing the beans in their natural state without any roasting process whatsoever so there is no real fat. Cocoa on the other hand is roasted and loses many nutrients in the process.

One of the biggest properties lost during this process is the large quantity of antioxidants found naturally in the seeds. These are built by things like Vitamins A, C and E, Selenium, Beta-carotene and Lutein to mention a few. All of them are in charge of preventing or slowing down cell damage. This in turn lowers any risk of diseases affecting the body or low immune system defenses.

This property is well worth mentioning since it natural and unprocessed cacao is the purest and most substantial amount of antioxidants you can consume. If there is another nutrient that rivals the amount it is definitely Magnesium.

There is More in Cacao

Although it is majorly recognized for being utterly delicious and having high and concentrated amounts of Magnesium and antioxidants, the other nutrients and benefits cacao provides are quite numerous. Among these we can find:

Reduced risks:

The sheer amount of things cacao lessens and somewhat erases any possibility of occurring are quite a lot. Mostly byproducts of the antioxidants, the consumption of the cacao seeds and nibs reduce risks of any cardiovascular or blood related diseases.

High Flavonoid Content:

Flavonoids, yet another type of antioxidants, are being studied to be able to verify that they help against any diseases of the brain. Dark chocolate and cacao nibs are filled with flavonoids and also indicate better brain functioning in already deteriorating patients or even just an increased attention spam in others.

Fiber Fountain:

Another priceless nutrient found in cacao, fiber build muscle and maintains a healthy metabolism rate.

Protein:

The amount that cacao has and how it works in your body boosts the work ethic on the organs and the energy you usually have.

Bountiful Minerals:

After Magnesium, there are other minerals that can be found in cacao, these being Calcium, Sulfur, Zinc, Copper and Iron.

Godiva Belgian Chocolates Gift Box, Assorted, 27 Count
Godiva Belgian Chocolates Gift Box, Assorted, 27 Count

This indulgent Godiva Belgian assortment features: Top Layer: Iconic Bliss Pieces in (3) Dark Chocolate, (3) Milk Chocolate, (3) White Chocolate with creamy ganache fillings Middle Layer: Caramel Embraces in (3) Milk Chocolate, (3) Dark Chocolate.

 

Too Much of Anything is Bad for You

As much as those benefits are inviting and welcomed into our lives, there should be some rules to be aware of when consuming cacao, especially if treating a deficiency. We have to know and accept that anything in excess is bad for the body and that cacao is highly addictive. As much as the nutrients help the body and aid in the battle against various diseases, the stimulant effect and constant need to consume it could deteriorate your mental health.

You just have to remember that this it to be eaten every now and then and should not be a daily treat to live by. It is healthy and can help and improve so many areas of our lives, but it should be respected and never abused.

The fats, minerals and antioxidants found are bountiful and needed but should be consumed in a controlled manner at all times. It is quite delicious and sugar-free as well, so it does make for great recipes to try out at home and go crazy about. Now, this does not mean you should consider ignoring cocoa from now on because it does not have the same nutrients since it is quite tasty and soul refreshing, especially since it can be used in so many different ways.

Just like any other dishes, try varying things and switching it up since change does not hurt and is good for your diet. Remember the difference and the nutrients and make something different that you like out of the two perhaps? Have fun and enjoy them both really.

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