Are Raw Cacao Beans Good For You?

Are raw cacao beans good for you? This article answers that question and explains what to look for when shopping for raw cacao.

Are raw cacao beans good for you
Cacao beans have fewer calories, less sugar, and less fat

Few people think about chocolate as a healthy food. However, cacao nibs–dried pieces of cacao beans, the same seed that becomes chocolate–have gotten a lot of attention as a healthier alternative. They have the same flavor compounds as chocolate, but fewer calories, less sugar, and less fat.

Chocolate fan? Check out our post looking at coffee vs. hot chocolate.

But are they good for you? 

Some of the health benefits attributed to cacao nibs remain unproven. However, studies suggest that raw cacao beans may be a surprising ally in the battle for good health. Unfortunately, it’s all the sugar and added fat that comes with a bar of chocolate that makes it bad.

Raw Cacao Beans And Your Health: The Basics

Raw cacao beans, the dried seeds of the same plant that makes chocolate, are a healthy snack. Experts in diet and nutrition, along with doctors, agree that crunchy seeds are a healthy way to get your chocolate fix for many reasons:

  • They’re rich in nutrients and antioxidants.
  • They’re a good source of fiber.
  • They’re low in sugar

But do cacao beans live up to the hype they get in the press? A deeper look suggests that, like most “superfoods,” there’s a lot of excitement but not a tremendous amount of proof.

Raw Cacao Beans Are Good, But Not Magic

Raw cacao beans come in a few different types, but the most common format is cacao nibs: dried, broken-up pieces of cacao beans. Cacao nibs are sold roasted or raw, but we’ll focus on raw cacao nibs for this article. 

The medical consensus does seem to be that cacao nibs are a healthy snack: they’re high in fiber and nutrient-dense, with lots of antioxidants and compounds like flavonoids that can help maintain good health and stave off bad health. 

Chocolate Cacao nibs or Cocoa nibs in bowl ready to use
Cacao nibs are a healthy snack

Taking a look at the nutrition breakdown for cacao nibs shows they make a very healthy snack, especially compared to the chocolate they usually become. A quick look shows they contain more than a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of copper and manganese, along with a strong helping of magnesium and 5 grams of fiber per one-ounce serving. 

Unlike your average chocolate bar, cacao nibs are low in sugar while still having most of the flavors people associate with high-quality dark chocolate.

Beyond just being a healthy snack, however, cacao beans generate a lot of excitement for their potential to reduce the risks of severe diseases: Alzheimer’s Disease, heart disease, and more. 

Compounds in cacao nibs have indeed shown benefits in reducing certain types of disease caused by inflammation and the daily damage that occurs in the body due to “free radicals.” However, it’s important to note that cacao nibs aren’t a magic cure-all.

How To Incorporate Raw Cacao Beans Into Your Diet

The good news is that raw cacao beans are very easy to incorporate into your diet, adding a nutritional punch and disease-prevention compounds to help you live longer and enjoy the life you’ve got. Cacao nibs were only available in health stores, but you can now find them in many big chain stores and online shopping platforms like Amazon.

Food To Live raw cacao nibs are kosher, vegan-friendly, and minimally processed, making them an excellent choice for anyone who wants the most direct experience of raw cocoa beans. On the other end of the spectrum is premium chocolate brand Pacari’s more upscale offering.

It’s a good idea to try a few different brands and formats of cacao beans to see what you prefer. For example, some cacao nibs made from higher quality chocolate, or crushed a little more uniformly, might suit your taste better–or maybe you like things a little more rustic. 

Once you’ve chosen your cacao nibs, it’s easy to incorporate them into everyday life and eating habits.

Young man eating breakfast
Incorporate cacao nibs into your eating habits

Have you read our article looking at Coffee vs. Cacao?

For example, add a tablespoon or two to your morning oatmeal for added fiber and flavor, use them as a replacement for chocolate chips in your trail mix, or just eat an ounce as a snack. 

Raw cacao beans are good for you, but of course, it’s important to enjoy everything in moderation.

Cacao Nibs, 1 Pound - Raw, Unsweetened, Kosher, Vegan, Keto and Paleo Friendly, Made from Antioxidant Rich Cacao Beans, Cacao BIts for Chocolate, Sirtfood, Bulk
  • Nutritional Powerhouse: Raw Cacao nibs are an excellent source of fiber and iron
  • Kosher, Keto, Raw, Vegan
  • Cacao Nibs Work well with breakfast foods, mixed in smoothies, trail mixes, and cookies, of course.
Pacari Organic Keto Cacao Powder, Cacao Nibs Non- GMO Gluten Free Vegan Diet Friendly (16 Oz)
  • Healthy Snacks: With PACARI Organic Cocoa Powder you can create endless Healthy Snacks with all the Flavor Hot Chocolate and Cold drinks. Only One Ingredient: Pure Cacao, No Artificial Flavors, Color or Sweetener.
  • Natural Life: Enjoy Life Guilt-free with our 100% Pure PACARI Products. We strive to bring Cacao Products that are: Keto Friendly, Vegan and Gluten Free Cacao Powder to improve your Hot Chocolate, Smoothies, Shakes, and other Chocolate Healthy Snacks.
  • Superfood Powder: Organic Cacao Powder is one of the highest sources of magnesium in nature, full of antioxidants, calcium, zinc, copper and selenium. Cacao provides a perfect snack with more antioxidants per gram than blueberries, goji berries, and others.
  • Ancient Secret: We Pursue the Protection the Historic Culture the Cacao carries. As we know, it triggers three neurotransmitters that are associated with elevating mood and mental well being: serotonin, dopamine, phenylethylamine. Happiness around love and eating chocolate!
  • From Tree To Bar: PACARI is a Family Owned Company that was born from a dream. We work with Small-Scale Farmers to produce 100% Pure Cacao: Fair Trade, Non GMO and Sustainable Processes to generate a positive impact on earth changing the world’s history through its chocolate.

Author

  • Savannah is a coffee lover who took her appreciation of the brew to the next level starting in college, becoming a barista before combining her love of writing with her affection for a good brew. She has written for several publications including Cracked.com and TopTenz, and also works as a ghostwriter.