Benefits of Raw Organic Cacao Nibs
What is Cacao?
Cacao, a tree whose scientific name is Theobroma cacao, grows exclusively between twenty degrees north and south of the equator, making it by definition tropical. The Cacao bean (also Cocoa bean, often simply called Cacao and Cocoa, is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of the Cacao tree. Before it was cultivated, cacao grew wild in Central and South America and may have been harvested and consumed sporadically. Successive cultures in what is now Central America used it for ceremonies, as a type of currency, and, to a degree, as a food.
Although the origins of the tree are disputed, it can be traced to the tropical regions of Venezuela, Honduras and Mexico. Some believe that it originally grew in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, others in Mexico. Scientific proof indicates more and more that the real cradle of cocoa and chocolate lies in the Ulúa valley in Honduras. Today though, cocoa is cultivated globally, albeit in a narrow belt around the equator: in carefully grown plantations in the tropical rainforests of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The perfect environment for the cocoa tree is found in the tropical heat of the equatorial forest. Young cocoa trees only thrive in tropical temperatures within the protective shadow of tall-growing plants such as banana plants or palm trees. Both the burning sun and the strong winds are merciless enemies of this fragile tree. From around the fifth or sixth year of their lives, the trees begin to bear pods and start to play their full economic role in the many plantations. This is limited to 25 years, after which it is time to replace them with younger trees. There are three different species of the cocoa tree.
The descendants that we see in the plantations today are usually cultivated or coincidental hybrids thereof, each with their own particular characteristics:
- Criollo, also known as the prince among cocoa trees, produces pods with a very thin peel. The cocoa itself has a very pale color and a unique refined aroma. This variety produces small harvests and is also very fragile.
- Forastero is a stronger type of tree that is easier to cultivate and produces larger yields. The cocoa pods have a thicker peel and a coarser, stronger aroma. Cocoa from the Forastero beans is often called bulk cocoa because it gives chocolate a typical recognizable basic aroma. This cocoa therefore forms the basic ingredient in most chocolates and can often account for 80% of the cocoa mixture.
- Trinitario is a cross of both types of trees and has characteristics of both of the former: it has a strong but relatively refined aroma and, moreover, is very easy to cultivate.
Cacao Nibs are extraordinarily nutritious! It has been named “Food of the Gods”. As per Dr Mercola, Organic Dark Chocolate, one of the richest sources of antioxidants and flavanols, and also contains the micronutrients iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.Cacao is the Best Natural Food Source of the Following Nutrients:
Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world.These antioxidants include polyphenols, catechins, and epicatechins, which may have beneficial cardiovascular effects on health and wellbeing. The cocoa flavanols are natural and powerful antioxidants and help to strengthen your body’s own natural defence against free radicals before they can cause any harm. By weight, Cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries COMBINED.
Cacao seems to be the #1 source of magnesium. Magnesium is one of the great alkaline minerals. It helps to support the heart, brain, and digestive system. Magnesium is also important for building strong bones. This is likely the primary reason women crave chocolate during the monthly cycle. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and is associated with more happiness. Magnesium is the most deficient major mineral on the Standard American Diet (SAD); over 80% of Americans are chronically deficient in Magnesium! Cacao has enough magnesium to help reverse deficiencies of this mineral.
Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical) is an endorphin that the human body naturally produces after exercise. Anandamide has only been found in one plant Cacao. Anandamide is known as “The Bliss Chemical” because it is released while we are feeling great. Cacao contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our bodies’ ability to breakdown anandamide. This means that, when we eat cacao, natural anandamide and/or cacao anandamide may stick around longer, making us feel good longer.
Cacao usually contains about 1% theobromine. Theobromine is an effective anti-bacterial substance and kills streptococci mutans (the primary organism that causes cavities). Theobromine is a chemical relative of caffeine but is not a nervous system stimulant. Theobromine dilates the cardiovascular system making the hearts job easier. This is one of the major reasons why cacao is an important part of a heart healthy diet.
Iron is a critical mineral in nutrition. Iron is part of the oxygen carrying protein called hemoglobin that keeps our blood healthy.
Chromium is an important trace mineral that helps balance blood sugar. Nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in this trace mineral. Cacao has enough chromium to help reverse deficiencies in this mineral.
Other BenefitsCacao Also Contains the Following Important Unique Nutrients:
Manganese is an essential trace mineral. Manganese helps assist iron in the oxygenation of the blood and formation of hemoglobin. Interestingly, manganese is also concentrated in tears.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral. Zinc plays a critical role in the immune system, liver, pancreas, and skin. Additionally, zinc is involved in thousands of enzymatic reactions throughout the human body.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids:
Cacao contains essential omega 6 fatty acids. All cooked and processed chocolate contains rancid omega 6 fatty acids (trans-fat) that can cause an inflammatory reaction when one eats cooked chocolate.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) is found in abundance in cacao. Because PEA is heat sensitive, much of the PEA in conventional cooked and processed chocolate is missing. PEA is the chemical that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love. This is likely one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep connection. PEA also plays a role in increasing focus and alertness.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is transformed into important stress-protective neurotransmitters including serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan is heat sensitive and therefore it is cooked out in many high protein foods and in conventional processed chocolate.
Serotonin is the primary neurotransmitter in the human body. Serotonin is similar in its chemistry to tryptophan and melatonin. Serotonin helps us build up our stress defense shield.
Copper is an essential trace mineral. In the human body, copper helps to build healthy blood.
How to consume Cacao nibs at Home:
- Try eating them straight, a tablespoon at a time. Chew thoroughly and experience the real taste of raw chocolate.
- Sprinkle on yogurt, granola, cereal, desserts, etc.
- Make a delicious chocolate shake with dairy or nut milk, coconut oil, a frozen banana, agave nectar, and cacao beans.
- Add agave nectar, yacon sweetener, or honey to the raw cacao nibs and chew!
- Freeze cacao nibs with sweeteners (agave nectar or honey is fantastic). Eat cold.
- Blend powdered cacao into herbal teas with the Peruvian superfood, maca.
- Add cacao nibs to ice creams for the healthiest chocolate chip ice cream in the world. In fact drizzle some Peach Schnapps or Grand Marnier over vanilla ice cream and then sprinkle cacao nibs over it.
- Create a raw chocolate bar! Blend the following raw ingredients together: cacao, agave nectar, carob powder, maca, coconut oil, and cashews. Pour into a mold and freeze. Eat cold and experience the truth about the food of the gods!
- In a glass jar, mix together half a cup of chilled almond milk / rice milk or whatever milk you drink, with a teaspoon of cacao powder, a spoon of maca powder.
- Make a scrumptious chocolate nut fudge. In a food processor or blender, start with your favorite nut (cashews or almonds are particularly good) and add coconut oil, agave nectar or honey, coconut flakes, cacao beans, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Cacao beans keep well in cool, dry conditions.