Those known as cocoa nibs they are small pieces of cocoa beans that are crushed, offering the typical taste of chocolate but with a little more bitterness. Its production is made from the cocoa tree, scientifically known as Theobroma cacao.
After harvesting, the beans are fermented and, once cracked, the cocoa seeds are obtained.
Cocoa nibs have a fantastic nutritional composition that can benefit our health. That is why we wanted to carry out an investigation of the main scientific studies about what it can offer us and the prevention of possible diseases.
This is what we have found.
Table of Contents
Nutrition of cocoa nibs
The seeds of almost all trees and plants have an important source of nutrient reserve. It occurs similarly in cocoa nibs.
This product has the advantage that it is barely processed and contains a much smaller volume of sugars compared to other chocolate derivatives, so it is an interesting alternative with a low glycemic intake.
According to the American USDA, this is what gives us 100 grams of cocoa nibs:
- Energy: 464 kcal
- Proteins: 14.29 g
- Fats: 42.86 g
- Carbohydrates: 35.71 g
- Fibre: 32.1 g
Main minerals: iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and copper.
At the nutritional level, it is interesting that it does not provide any cholesterol (0 mg). This product provides a considerable amount of fiber, protein and healthy fats.
The most interesting, in addition to minerals and their nutritional composition, is the presence of biologically active compounds, such as flavonoids, antioxidant substances with numerous health benefits.
Main benefits of cocoa nibs
Large amount of antioxidants
Cocoa nibs, like many chocolate derivatives, contain a large amount of flavonoids, which have the ability to reduce free radicals that cause premature aging and accelerate the onset of diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
Flavonoids are able to reduce and complexify these elements to eliminate oxidative stress that they originate at the cellular level.
Among these polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidants, those present in cocoa nibs are procyanidins, catechins and epicatechins.
A diet rich in these antioxidant substances reduces the likelihood of suffering from different types of cancer, heart disease, cognitive decline and even diabetes. [See study scientific]
Inflammation of a tissue is a clear example that something bad is happening in our body, and is part of a response of our immune system.
One chronic inflammation it can lead to severe heart disease or different types of diabetes. In turn, these inflammatory processes are linked to the presence of free radicals that accumulate by ingesting toxic elements, burnt meat, hydroxyl radicals from tobacco, alcohol, pollution, etc.
Cocoa nibs have scientifically proven their action against these free radicals thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. The polyphenols present in this food are able to limit the activity of the NF-κB protein, which has a fundamental role in the inflammatory processes of our body. [See additional information]
At the level of inflammatory markers, they have been analyzed in both animals and humans, reducing tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin 6 (IL-6).
Cocoa nibs activate the immune system
Biologically active components of cocoa nibs offer anti-inflammatory activity and antioxidant, strengthening the defense system of our body.
Specifically, flavonoids, in addition to reducing inflammation, have an important role in metabolic syndrome, diabetes and reducing cognitive decline. These benefits are also linked to diets that group together foods rich in antioxidants.
Cocoa nibs can activate the function of the lymphoid tissue associated with the intestine, an essential fraction of the immune system located in the intestine. In this area is about 70% of the immune cells we have.
Previous animal studies have shown that it can act as a protective barrier against different food allergies. This is because the habitual consumption of cocoa nibs and others foods rich in polyphenols promote the reduction of sensitivity to oral antigens. [Effect of a cocoa diet on the small intestine]
Therefore, people who usually suffer from some type of food allergy (for example, soy allergy), can increase their tolerance range with the consumption of cocoa nibs.
May regulate blood sugar levels
Diabetic people need to regulate their blood glucose level continuously, as they are not able to produce adequate levels of insulin. In addition, they should follow a low-sugar diet and take foods with low glycemic index how chestnuts.
Clinical studies conducted in humans have found a positive pattern between consumption of cocoa beans and sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that regulates cellular absorption of sugar.
Consuming 25 grams daily of this product for 2 months reduced the fasting glucose concentration and the HbA1c marker that regulates long-term glycemic balance.
A review of more than 14 studies involving half a million people showed a 25% reduction in the likelihood of diabetes by consuming 2 servings of dark chocolate a week.
May improve cardiovascular health
Continuing with the thread of the polyphenols present in the cocoa nibs, both the anthocyanins as the Catechins are directly related to the cardiovascular health.
Regular consumption of cocoa reduces risk factors of this type, including high cholesterol and hypertension.
Read more: medicinal plants to reduce hypertension
These flavonoids have shown in more than 20 studies a considerable reduction in blood pressure (2-3 mm Hg) with the habitual consumption of cocoa nibs. [Effect of cocoa and blood pressure]
In turn, cocoa nibs have been shown to increase the blood concentration of good cholesterol (HDL) which, in turn, considerably reduces bad cholesterol (LDL).
Talking about foods that cure cancer is not the same as foods that prevent cancer from forming.
In this case, cocoa nibs have been shown to have certain preventive anti-cancer properties. This is associated with a diet high in antioxidants with the presence of epicatechins and catechins, which prevent the multiplication of carcinogenic cells.
Especially, a very positive impact has been seen against colon cancer, although research has only been able to be developed, so far, in animals (rodents). [Cocoa and colon cancer prevention]
There are other studies where it happens in a similar way for lung and prostate cancer cells, as shown by some trials. [Effect of cocoa and carcinoma]
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Main contraindications of cocoa nibs
Not everything is going to be a sea of roses and there are always some small limitations to the consumption of any food.
In the case of cocoa nibs, there are some limitations due to their stimulating potential and their content in theobromine. Some allergic cases or conditions of nervousness or anxiety have been seen for an excess of cocoa consumed.
However, it is considered a safe product even for pregnant women or children in the process of breastfeeding.