Cacao beans are seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, a small tree grown in South America. Cacao beans are roasted and ground to produce cocoa and, after further processing, are the basis of chocolate. BUT when the beans are dried at low temperature they are called raw cacao beans, which can be consumed whole, broken into pieces called nibs or ground to produce raw cocoa powder. Cacao beans are rich in natural antioxidant compounds with many health benefits. Cacao beans contain natural chemicals called flavonoids, a type of antioxidant compound that promotes general health and might lower your risk of several diseases. One type of flavonoid, called anthocyanidin, is especially high in cacao beans, along with other compounds called epicatechins.
These compounds are powerful antioxidants and are especially concentrated in cocoa, a product of cacao beans. Researchers compared the antioxidant capacity of black tea, green tea, red wine and cocoa, concluding that cocoa has the highest antioxidant activity among the four products and the greatest potential for health benefits.