I just had to find the brand of Cacao Nibs that you might actually eat! This search was prompted by reports from one of my Premier members who felt (correctly) that the Cacao Nibs that I suggested she buy at a health food store in Palm Desert tasted like dirt! Having tasted and personally consumed a number of Cacao Nibs that did not taste like dirt, I have been on a quest to find one that a neophyte might find enjoyable. And indeed I have found not one but two!
Although both are great, Navitas is my favorite. Cacao Nibs from Navitas Naturals, is an organic, kosher, vegan, raw product. You may find them at Whole Foods, or on line at www.Navitasnaturals.com. My other recommendation is Dagoba Cacao Nibs, available at many health food stores or at www.Dagobachocolate.com.
You already know that I think extra dark chocolate, greater than 72% cocoa solids, is an important “drug” that you should enjoy almost every day in moderation (approximately 1 oz). In fact, one researcher has suggested that chocolate is the most important “vegetable” you can eat! Sorry, but chocolate is not a vegetable, but is made from the beans of the cacao plant. Read on, as I hope to convince you that this bean has such important qualities that you should consider it an integral part of your Restoration Program!
We’ll start with why Cacao is so important and Cacao Nibs (or Cocoa Nibs) are the best. That’s right, cocoa and cacao are the same, but be careful. Cocoa is now used to describe any form of processed cacao, and how cacao is processed makes all the difference in how the “drug” works. Chocolate is a highly processed form of cacao; some is great, some worthless.
The first description of Cocoa consumption occurred in 1600 BC in Honduras! The scientific name for the cocoa tree is Theobroma cacao, from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (drink). Indeed, the Aztec emperor Montezuma felt that cocoa was a divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. In the language of the Aztecs, the drink was called Chocolatl. Cocoa was brought to Europe in the 16th century. It was the Dutch that first made the bitterness in Cocoa tolerable by adding alkali to cocoa. This process, which is still used today to make smooth tasting chocolate, is called Dutching! Unfortunately, dutch processed chocolate loses almost all the active ingredients that Club Members are looking for.
Why eat Cocoa?
The Kuna Indians of an island off Panama are one of the few cultures that are protected against the age-dependent increase in blood pressure and development of arterial hypertension. The Kunas consume enormous amounts of cocoa daily, sometimes enjoying it with salt! Mortality in this population is significantly lower than surrounding peoples that don’t use Cocoa. Genetics? Nope! When the Kunas move to other areas of Panama and stop eating cocoa, they revert to the rest of the population in terms of heart disease and death rates. It’s the cocoa!
A 16 year study of 35,000 women in Iowa (the Iowa Women’s Health Study) found that women who ate the most chocolate had the lowest cardiovascular mortality.
The Dutch Zutphen Elderly study, found that cocoa intake prevented high blood pressure. Moreover, the men who ate the most cocoa had a 50% less risk of heart disease that men who ate the least!
What’s in this stuff?
In a word: Polyphenols. Polyphenols are also called flavonoids. They usually occur as epicatechin and catechin. These are also called procyanidins. Need something to remember? These are tannins, the same substances that make red wine bitter and makes extra dark chocolate more bitter than milk chocolate! Ahah! “More bitter, more better! “ These bitter compounds are destroyed by Dutch processing, which is why they taste smoother and you like them more. They are also bound up by milk, which is why milk chocolate is virtually worthless as a health food.
What does it do?
Cacao makes the inside of your blood vessels relax, in exactly the same way that Viagra or Cialis works! Wow! Viagra or Chocolate? A 1 ounce serving of high flavanol chocolate will keep your blood vessels dilated for up to eight hours. It makes coronary arteries dilate, reduce the stickiness of blood vessels and reduce oxidative stress! And who doesn’t want that?
Want more? Cocoa lowers LDL and prevents the oxidation of LDL (making LDL unsticky) Cocoa lowers insulin levels and improves insulin resistance.
Why cacao nibs?
Any time you mess with the original ingredient, you take away some of the benefit! Nobody did anything to these guys!
How do I use Cacao Nibs?
My favorite way is to break off a piece of extra dark chocolate from a bar, then sprinkle a number of Cacao Nibs onto the piece and pop it into my mouth: a healthful Nestle’s Crunch Bar! Once you get used to them, sprinkle them into your plain yogurt with some raw nuts, or eat them alone! You will actually find that each brand of Cacao Nibs have their own distinctive flavor; some citrus, some berry, some dirt.