Why You Should Try Adding Cacao Nibs To Your Diet

Have a sweet tooth? You may be in luck. Adding chocolate to your diet can have positive health benefits. You read that right — the cacao bean that chocolate is derived from actually packs some nutritional punch.

Cacao nibs are cacao beans, or cocoa beans, that have been crushed into small pieces. These bitter beans have a chocolate flavor without all the sweeteners in regular chocolate, and they're not as processed as some of their chocolate counterparts.

Among the nutritional benefits in cacao beans are rich amounts of fiber, healthy fats, protein, and minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, protein, phosphorus, and zinc (via Healthline). You may even see a boost in your digestion and your mood from the added fiber and fats in cacao nibs (via WebMD).

Cacao beans also contain antioxidants like flavonoids that can lower rates of cancer, cognitive decline, and heart disease. These antioxidants can have anti-inflammatory effects on your body and, as a result, leave a lasting impact on your immune system.

When you should be careful about cacao nibs

Before you load up on "nature's chocolate chips," you may want to be aware of some potential downfalls. Cacao beans do contain caffeine, so an excessive amount of cacao nibs may cause jitteriness or keep you awake at night.

Monitoring caffeine intake is especially important for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In these cases, especially in later stages of their pregnancy, parents-to-be should consult with their doctors about adding cacao nibs to their diet.

In most cases, though, cacao nibs can be a fun addition to a well-rounded diet and help curb your sweet tooth in a healthy manner. You can add cacao nibs in both sweet and savory dishes. When substituting for chocolate, you may need to adjust sweetener measurements in the recipe to accommodate the bitterness of cacao nibs.