Are Cacao Nibs Paleo? (Find Out Now!)

Are Cacao Nibs Paleo

Cacao nibs are an ancient treasure that has been consumed for centuries because of their delicious taste and rich nutritional profile. Cacao nibs are pulverized pieces of dry cacao beans that are harvested from the cacao tree. Cacao nibs come from the same bean that is used to make chocolate candy. They are prepared by smashing cacao beans into delicious tiny pieces. These delectably sweet nibs are frequently used in many recipes as a chocolate chip replacement. Since these cacao nibbles are a more natural alternative to chocolate chips, are they ok to consume on the paleo diet?

Yes, both raw and roasted cacao nibs are allowed on the paleo diet. Cacao nibs have been consumed in the diet since paleolithic times and have been given the nickname “nature’s chocolate chips.” Other paleo alternatives to cacao nibs include HU Gems Dark Chocolate Chips, Lakanto Semi-Sweet Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips, and Pascha’s Organic Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Chips.

In this article, we will go over the nutritional information for cacao nibs, their health benefits, and other paleo alternatives. Let’s get started!

Are Cacao Nibs Healthy?

1. Nutrition

These bitter, chocolatey flavored bits contain several beneficial nutrients, like antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and protein. While cacao nibs may look like chocolate chips, they have zero sugar or other additives. Cacao nibs fit into a variety of diets because they are gluten-free, sugar-free, kosher, vegan, and GMO-free. 

2. Antioxidants

Cacao nibs contain many powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body to reduce and repair cell damage, which prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer. 

3. Healthy Digestion

Surprisingly enough, cacao nibs are an excellent source of fiber! Just one tablespoon of cacao nibs contains more than 10% of the daily recommended value of fiber. Fiber is so important because of its effects in promoting healthy digestion. Getting enough fiber in the diet can help prevent digestive issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids. 

4. Heart Health

Cacao nibs are a great source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are metabolites of plants that are linked to reducing inflammation and oxidative damage in the body. The potassium and flavonoids in cacao nibs may help lower the risk of heart disease because of their effect on reducing blood pressure. The high fiber content also plays a role in the reduction of bad cholesterol circulating in the body.

5. Mood

Cacao nibs include healthful fatty acids and other substances that can boost serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These are the “feel good” hormones that play a major role in mood regulation. 

6. Anti-Inflammatory

Certain plant compounds and antioxidants in cacao nibs have anti-inflammatory properties that fight inflammation by suppressing stress hormones. This may help decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.

Roasted vs Raw Nibs

The differences in the flavor and aroma of cacao nibs all come down to whether they are roasted or not. Roasting is the most important step in cacao bean processing since it results in the production of compounds that are responsible for the extraordinary chocolate scent and taste. It is also the reason for the development of cacao’s unique brown color and firm texture. Unroasted nibs will have more of an earthy flavor and a less strong aroma, compared to roasted nibs. 

Cacao in its raw form may contain pathogenic bacteria or microorganisms. The roasting process is sometimes vital because it ensures that these pathogens are destroyed. However, regardless of the benefits of the roasting process, raw cacao nibs are the paleo diet’s preferred form. This is because they have undergone the least amount of processing. 

Ways to Use Cacao Nibs

The great thing about cacao nibs is that they can be used in so many ways. They work perfectly as a substitute for chocolate chips in baking. Here are some ideas of other ways we can incorporate these nutritious nibs into the diet:

  • Add to smoothies and protein shakes
  • Mix them into trail mix or granola
  • Mix into marinades and sauces
  • In baked goods, such as muffins, cookies, cakes
  • As a crunchy topping on ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • A crunchy addition to oatmeal
  • Yogurt bark

Are Cacao and Cocoa The Same Thing?

Although the names cocoa and cacao are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a slight distinction between the two. They do both start out as beans from the cacao plant, but after they are harvested and fermented, it all comes down to the temperature. The level of heat is how we determine whether the product is considered cacao or cocoa.

Cacao is typically processed at much lower temperatures than cocoa. These cooler temperatures allow the cacao to maintain more of its nutritional value. As a result, the taste is more bitter and tart. So, cacao nibs are just these cacao beans that are gently crushed into their “nib” form. 

Cocoa is roasted at a significantly higher temperature than cacao. The high heat, unfortunately, destroys much of the bean’s antioxidants and nutrients. The flavor ends up being not as bitter as cacao. It is also common to see more added ingredients in cocoa products, such as dairy, sugar, and other sweeteners. 

Cacao Nibs Nutrition Information

Below we have listed the nutrition facts for both raw and roasted cacao nibs.

Navitas Organics Raw Cacao Nibs


  • Certified organic cacao nibs

Nutrition Facts (per 3 Tablespoons):

  • Calories: 190
  • Total Fat: 15g
  • Saturated Fat: 9g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 11g
  • Dietary Fiber: 8g
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 4g

GT Leaf Roasted Cacao Nibs


  • Organic cacao beans

Nutrition Facts (per 3 Tablespoons):

  • Calories: 180
  • Total Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 8g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 12g
  • Dietary Fiber: 8g
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 6g

What About Cacao Powder and Cacao Butter?

Cacao powder and cacao butter are also considered paleo-friendly. They are considered paleo because they only contain one ingredient – raw pulverized cacao beans. Let’s review the nutrition information for these other forms of cacao.

Navitas Organics Cacao Powder

Cacao powder is produced the same way as the nibs, but it is pulverized even further into a powdered form. Cacao powder is also a great addition to many recipes.


  • Certified Organic Cacao

Nutrition Facts (per 2.5 Tablespoons):

  • Calories: 60
  • Total Fat: 1.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 10mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 9g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4g
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 3g

Organic Traditions Cacao Butter

Cacao butter, commonly referred to as cocoa butter, is the fat that is derived from cacao beans. It is produced by harvesting cacao beans from cacao pods, cleaning them, and finally – roasting them.


  • Organic Cacao Butter

Nutrition Facts (per 2 Tablespoons):

  • Calories: 180
  • Total Fat: 20g
  • Saturated Fat: 12g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0g
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Other Paleo Alternatives

HU Gems Dark Chocolate Chips

Hu Gems|Organic Dark Chocolate Baking & Snacking, 9 Oz (Pack Of 6) These chips are not only paleo, but they are also USDA Organic, GMO-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Kosher. The HU brand is passionate about providing high-quality foods that also taste delicious.


  • Organic Cacao
  • Unrefined Organic Coconut Sugar
  • Organic Fair-Trade Cocoa Butter

Nutrition Facts (per 1 Tablespoon):

  • Calories: 90
  • Total Fat: 6.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 7mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 6.5g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Total Sugars: 4.5g
  • Protein: 1g

Lakanto Semi-Sweet Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips

Lakanto Sugar Free Chocolate Chips - Monkfruit Sweetener, Gluten Free, Keto Diet Friendly, Vegan, 1g Net Carbs, Non-GMO, Perfect for Baking, Melting, Mixing, Snacking (8 oz) Lakanto is another product that promises quality ingredients. These chocolate chips are certified gluten-free, zero-glycemic, dairy-free, paleo, vegan, and ketogenic. No matter what your dietary needs are, you can feel guilt-free while indulging in some of the finest gourmet chocolate! 


  • Unsweetened Chocolate
  • Non-GMO Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener (Erythritol And Monk Fruit Extract)
  • Tapioca Fiber
  • Acacia Gum
  • Sea Salt
  • Natural Flavors
  • Cellulose Gum
  • Sunflower Lecithin

Nutrition Facts (per 1 Tablespoon):

  • Calories: 50
  • Total Fat: 4g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 15mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Sugar Alcohol: 4g
  • Protein: <1g

Pascha’s Organic Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Chips

Pascha, Organic Chocolate Chips 100% Cacao Unsweetened, 8.8 Ounce Pascha Organic 100% Cacao Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Chips are full of flavor but free of sugar and major allergens. Pascha sustainably sources them from pure cocoa beans in Peru and then processes the chocolate in a facility free of peanuts, nuts, dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, and gluten. 


  • 100% Organic Cocoa Mass

Nutrition Facts (per 1 Tablespoon):

  • Calories: 100
  • Total Fat: 8g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini-Chips

Enjoy Life Semi Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips, 10 oz Enjoy Life is the #1 allergy-friendly baking chocolate on the market. These Enjoy Life chocolate chips are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegan, and paleo. 


  • Cane Sugar
  • Unsweetened Chocolate
  • Cocoa Butter

Nutrition Facts (per 1 Tablespoon):

  • Calories: 80
  • Total Fat: 5g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 9g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Total Sugars: 7g
  • Protein: 1g

Related Questions

Where Can I Buy Cacao Nibs?

Cacao nibs are widely available and may be found in most grocery stores and health food stores. They can also be purchased online. 

How Do I Store Cacao Nibs?

Cacao nibs can last up to two years they are stored correctly. They should be stored in a cool, dry place, like a pantry or cupboard in an air-tight container. This will help maintain optimal freshness and prolong its shelf life. 

Are Cacao Nibs Keto?

Cacao nibs are high in fat but should be consumed in moderation on the keto diet because they have a moderate amount of carbs. One 3-Tablespoon serving of cacao nibs contains 3 grams of net carbs. Since the keto diet should not exceed 20-30 grams of carbohydrates per day, it is important to watch your serving size as these carbs can add up quickly.

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Jordana Tobelem

Jordana is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others become the best versions of themselves through proper nutrition education. Jordana has a passion for promoting lifestyle changes through nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to create a superior quality of life. Jordana also holds certifications in Personal Training and Holistic Health Coaching.

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