Friday NewsFlash: more loco for cocoa, the ‘why’s’ have it!

Posted by on Mar 21, 2014 in heart disease | 0 comments

Dark chocolateGuess what? Research presented at this week’s American Chemical Society Meeting in Dallas appears to demonstrate the reasons why dark chocolate might be good for your health: microbes in your gut.

Like many writers, I’ve been reporting on chocolate for some time now and yet, while theories have focused on  flavanols, neither cause and effect, or the exact reasons for benefits have been clear. However, Lousiana State University scientists say that good microbes in your gut – lactic acid and a type knowns Bifedobacterium – actually breakdown the antioxidant properties in cocoa (e.g. cathechin and epicatechin), ferment it and produce smaller molecules that are anti-inflammatory. In other words, they are believed to help reverse the body’s low-grade inflammation that leads to heart attack, stroke and other heart-related conditions. The discovery came when the scientists exposed three different cocoa powders to simulated digestion and then fermented the non-digestable materials.

Another related finding is that when prebiotics — carbohydrates that are found in foods like raw garlic or cooked whole wheat flour — are combined with cocoa, namely the small amount of fiber in cocoa, they become like worker bees to further help break down the antioxidant compounds.

Now that we have the why, let’s hope that researchers confirm an actual cause and effect. Right now, they can only confirm an association. But having your dark chocolate and eating it too may be one of the best things you can do for your heart health, at least, in moderation.

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