1.Maintain Muscle and Nerve Function
Cacao beans are one of the best magnesium-rich foodsaround. Magnesium is a mineral needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, and cacao nibs contain 272 milligrams per 100 grams.
Magnesium is key to muscle and nerve function, keeping the heart rhythm steady. Thanks to its high magnesium content, along with the effects of epicatechin, cacao improves muscle structure and enhances nerve function. (3, 4)
2. Help You Lose Weight and Keep You Regular
Yes, you can lose weight when eating cacao! Now, it’s critical that you keep this in check, as cacao is high in fat and calories, but if you eat pure cacao or cacao nibs, you can get lots of fiber, which makes you feel fuller.
Don’t confuse this with chocolate bars found at the grocery because you don’t get any dietary fiber when you eat a chocolate bar, but one ounce of cacao nibs has nine grams! That makes cacao nibs ultimate high-fiber foods.
In addition, the fiber found in cacao may help keep your bowel movements regular. In a clinical study, subjects were given cocoa powder supplemented with high-fiber cocoa bran twice daily for two four-week periods, separated by a three-week period in which cocoa was not consumed. The frequency of bowel movements increased and feelings of constipation decreased during the periods when cocoa powder was consumed. (5) The raw cacao in these supplements was behind the constipation relief.
3. Prevent Anemia
Iron is necessary for red blood cell production so as an iron-rich food, cacao can help fight anemic symptoms. You can get 6 percent of your recommended daily iron intake per ounce from raw cacao nibs.
Iron deficiency has side effects like fatigue and malaise. Thankfully, iron is abundant in cacao! To better ensure proper absorption, pair it with a good vitamin C source like a piece of fruit. (6)
4. Reduce Risk of Coronary Disease and Stroke
Antioxidants from chocolate are probably the most common source of benefits that we know. Cacao beans, especially when eaten raw, are some of the most rich high-antioxidant foods around thanks to the phytonutrients available in cacao nibs, helping absorb the free radicals that cause damage in the body.
A study published in Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine reported that epidemiological data shows that regular dietary intake of plant-derived foods and beverages reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. In addition, the study demonstrated the beneficial effects of cacao on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular and platelet function. (7)
5. Treat Diarrhea
Cocoa beans have historically been used as a treatment for diarrhea due to the polyphenols contained in cacao, which inhibit certain intestinal secretions. In a study conducted at Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the dose-dependent effects of flavonoid compounds present in cacao, or molecularly closely related compounds, were tested, resulting in the possible prevention of the buildup of fluid in the small intestine that’s associated with diarrhea. (8, 9)
6. Enhance Mood
Neurotransmitters are the little messengers in our brains that tell our bodies how to behave, ultimately affecting our mood. Cacao and cacao nibs have this amazing ability to act on those neurotransmitters.
Chocolate in the form of cacao stimulates the brain to release particular neurotransmitters, like euphoria, that can trigger emotions. There are two chemicals that cacao produces in our bodies when consumed. One is phenylethylamine (PEA) a chemical that our bodies make naturally. We produce PEA, an adrenal-related chemical, when we’re excited, which is what causes the pulse to quicken, providing us with more focus and awareness. (10, 11)
The other is anandamide, which is a lipid found in cacao known as the “the bliss molecule.” It has obtained this name due to its natural molecular shape, which represents that of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. (12)