Cacao (or cocoa) nibs,bits of the same cacao beans that go into candy bars and hot chocolate, contain healthy antioxidants that can boost your health and possibly even help you live longer. Also called cocoa beans, cacao beans are technically a seed that comes from the Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao nibs are less refined than chocolate liquor or cocoa powder and thus are more nutritionally potent.
Healthwise, cacao nibs’ greatest claim to fame is their flavonoid content. Flavonoids are antioxidants also found in tea, grapes and berries, and they appear to improve health by altering cell-signaling pathways, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. The institute notes that more research is needed, but some studies suggest that flavonoids might help prevent cancer as well as brain ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease. Cacao nibs contain more flavonoids than prepared chocolate, and among chocolate candies, the darkest versions are the most flavonoid-rich.