Dark cocoa nibs or cacao nibs is a closer form of chocolate to the cacao/cocoa bean source. The beans from the cacao/cocoa pods are roasted and then parted from their protective husks and broken down into small pieces. These have been popular for a long time for adding a bitter flavoring to drinks, baked goods and savory dishes. The small pieces of cacao still retain a chocolately flavor but lack the sweetness, making them ideal for cooking dishes that you don't want too sweet. The stronger flavor also requires less, so even in sweet dishes like chocolate cookies, you can substitute out higher calorie chocolate chips for fewer cocoa nibs. In addition to being great for cooking, cocoa nibs are also nutrient-dense sources of some vitamins and minerals. Try adding cocoa nibs to coffee, dessert toppings, savory dishes like cacao and coffee roasted chicken, or baked into your favorite cookies.
The Nutritional Value of Cocoa Nibs
1oz of Cocoa Nibs/ Cacao
Fat: 12g / 18% DV
Carbohydrates: 13g / 4% DV
Fiber: 3g / 12% DV
Iron: 3.3mg / 19% DV
Magnesium: 63.8mg / 16% DV
Copper: 0.5mg / 25% DV
Manganese: 0.5mg / 27% DV
Health Benefits of Cocoa Nibs
- Fiber and protein found in cocoa nibs will support your weight management goals by slowing digestion and leaving you feeling fuller for longer.
- They are packed full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which will help you fight damage caused by free radicals. This will help prevent diseases and slow the aging process.
- Cocoa nibs are a good source of iron! Iron is one of the most important minerals because it serves as an essential part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is important in the body because it helps transport the oxygen in your blood to enzymes and body cells. Breathing facilitates energy production to fuel cell processes, so by breathing and eating enough iron you are helping energize yourself! Iron is also important for helping brain development and supporting a healthy immune function.
- Just one ounce is a high source of manganese. Manganese is essential to help build strong bones and is a part of many enzymes that play a role in metabolizing the food you eat. These enzymatic reactions help breakdown and utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The enzymes form connective tissue, blood clotting factors and sex hormones.
- Cocoa nibs also have ~1/4 of the amount of caffeine you might find in a cup of coffee, so they can provide a little energy boost when eaten as part of a snack like trail mix.
- They also are a good source of copper, which is also important in making hemoglobin and carrying oxygen in red blood cells. Working as part of enzymes, copper helps your body produce energy and develops the connective tissue, myelin and melanin. This connective tissue protects your nerves and keeps the elasticity of your skin, thereby reducing the signs of aging!
- Flavanols are found in high levels in cocoa. Flavanols are phytonutrients that contribute to heart health, bolstering antioxidant defenses and neutralizing the free radicals that damage cells. The ones found in cocoa may also contribute to urinary tract health in addition to maintaining heart health!
Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.