When you hear the word “cacao,” you may think of chocolate. But, this superfood packs tons of vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids in its pods. Raw cacao has a bitter taste but is rich in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and more (via Healthline). Since many people are magnesium deficient and this mineral is part of nearly 300 enzyme reactions in the body, it’s a good idea to be getting as much of it as possible (via Healthline).

But, be wary of the difference between cacao, cocoa, and chocolate. Cacao is a superfood that’s packed with healthy components like flavonoids and other anti-inflammatory properties. Made from the same plant as cocoa and chocolate, cacao comes from beans that are naturally fermented, roasted, and ground to make a paste or powder (via Navita Organics). Cocoa and chocolate, on the other hand, get processed at high heat with preservatives, sugars and other artificial agents added to the mix (via Navita Organics). These processes can often strip the cacao of the natural benefits, so when you’re adding cacao to your breakfast, make sure it’s 100 percent unprocessed cacao. This can come as a block, in cacao nib form, or as a powder.

Starting off your day with a tasty superfood never sounded so good!

Add cacao or cacao nibs to your smoothies and cereal

Since breakfast provides your fuel for the day, using superfoods in whatever you’re serving is always a good idea. A simple way to add cacao to your morning routine, making a smoothie with frozen berries, spinach, nut milk, and cacao nibs or powder can give you an easy, on-the-go meal that will satisfy and nourish. If you have more time, making an açai bowl with fruit and coconut shreds makes the perfect base for cacao nibs as well. Another favorite of non-coffee drinkers, you can make a warm latte with cacao and other herbs combined with nut milk. 

Particularly beneficial for those with diabetes, cacao also aids in blood sugar control with its ability to improve sensitivity to insulin (via Healthline). Since it has no added sugars in its original form, eating cacao won’t spike your blood sugar levels first thing in the morning – unlike many sugary cereals and other classic breakfast items. 

Add the nibs as toppings to oatmeal, trail mix, or even to your toast for a nutrient-dense meal (via Real Simple). Just make sure that the ingredient list of your cacao nibs, powder, or block just includes cacao and no additives to make this option as healthy as possible.

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