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7 Health Benefits Of Cocoa Nibs

7 Health Benefits Of Cocoa Nibs

I’ve got a golden ticket for you..and it’s not to a factory with a short, creepy, orange labor force and an indoor stream that’s the same color as the Hudson river.

This is a golden ticket to a healthy, nutrient dense and superior snack choice.

Mankinds love affair with chocolate goes back a long way, and not for the stuff I scramble to get at a gas station because I forgot it was valentines day….AGAIN.

Cacao nibs are are a great way to enjoy some healthy snacking while providing your body with a lot of nutrition

History Of Chocolate

The Aztecs were big into chocolate 4-5000 years ago and were grinding up cocoa beans and combining them with other ingredients to make things like drinks and porridge. These ancient recipes have lasted to this day and you can even make your own Aztec concoction following them.

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These old style drinks would not be a nice creamy hot chocolate but a thick, foamy and very bitter type of gritty drink. Most often a straw was needed just to consume them.

We even get the name ‘Cocoa’ from the Nahuatl language which means ‘bitter water

The Spanish were the first to spread chocolate (not as nutella on a sandwich) and by the 17th century cocoa beans were starting to show up in European ports. The French began to make more palatable drinks from them and the English and Dutch began to make chocolate sweeter and even into bar form.

What Are Cacao Nibs?

Dark chocolate of at least 70% cocoa solids is a true superfood but cacao nibs take it to the next level. Cacao nibs are essentially eating the cacao bean itself as they have been roasted, separated from their husks and broken into smaller pieces. When we use the word ‘Cocoa‘ it is usually in reference to the processed, final product. Cacao is how any form of chocolate starts out as the beans come from the Theobroma cacao tree.

Cacao nibs are the least processed and most natural form of chocolate. The lack of processing and sugars do give them a bit of an acquired taste as they have a distinctive bitter but somewhat nutty flavor. They do however have lots of uses as you can add them into smoothies, as a topping on desserts, use in baking or even just snack on right out of the bag.

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Here are 7 great nutritional benefits from eating this great, ancient ingredient.

1. Antioxidants

In my opinion this is the best reason to eat cacao nibs or dark chocolate in general. Antioxidants help fight off free radical damage in the body which can cause DNA damage, premature aging and even cancers. Think of antioxidants as firefighters putting out a blaze. And cacao is one of the highest sources of antioxidants

2. Flavonoids

Flavonoids come from plants and can be responsible for giving pigmentation and colors to being involved in UV filtration. They are similar to antioxidants in that they  have a free radical scavenging capacity and have anti-cancer properties while other flavonoids show potential for anti HIV function. We get flavonoids from fruits, vegetables, teas, wine and a significant amount from cacao. Essentially the antioxidant activity comes from flavanoids

3. Can Fight Cardiovascular Disease

There is a positive relationship between intake of flavonoid rich foods such as cacao and lower rates of cardiovascular-related mortality. In the 1930’s to early 50’s flavonoids were actually referred to as ‘Vitamin P’ because of the effect they had on the permeability of vascular capillaries. That study linked here has shown that as little as 5 grams of cacao powder is sufficient to elicit significant vasodilation of the brachial artery.

4. Fiber

There is a huge amount of fiber in just a one ounce serving of cacao nibs. 9 grams! This can help control your blood pressure and blood glucose levels. This fiber can also help lower blood cholesterol as well as helping keep bowel movements regular. You and I are close now and I think we can definitely talk about that…

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5. Magnesium

A one ounce serving of cacao nibs has 64 milligrams of magnesium making it one of the best dietary sources of it. Magnesium is starting to be really recognized as a very key element for the body as it is involved in hundreds of functions in the body such as:

  • protein synthesis
  • muscle and nerve function
  • blood glucose control
  • blood pressure regulation

6. Potassium

This time in a one ounce serving you are looking at 183 mg of potassium! Potassium is crucial for life, it is key in heart, kidneys and other organs to function properly. Potassium is found in a lot of foods including cacao nibs but the average person is not eating a healthy diet and low potassium is associated with:

  • risk of high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • digestive orders
  • infertility

7. Improved Mood

Chocolate and cacao help stimulate the brain into releasing neurotransmitters that can trigger feel good hormones. One of those unique neurotransmitters released by cacao is phenylethylamine. This “love drug” releases endorphins giving us alertness, contentment and a better sense of well-being.

Probably why I turn to chocolate every time I watch the Notebook…

Wrapping It Up

Whew, that had a lot of science behind it. This theme is starting to play in my head now….

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So check out cacao nibs. They are easy to find now in packages or even at bulk food stores. They make a great snack when mixed with nuts like almonds and adding an ounce or two a day can have some tremendous benefits.

Nib High Football Rules!!

(If you know that quote I love you forever..)

Featured photo credit: Sexy young pretty woman / model / girl / student / businesswoman / secretary with full lips / vintage / retro is eating chocolate / lips / seductive – closeup via shutterstock.com

More by this author

Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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