Gut bacteria may be responsible for your love of chocolate.
Bacteria that reside in the gut appear to be the link between dark chocolate and heart health, according to a recent study. Food scientists reported their most recent findings at the recent American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas.
U.S. researchers believe that particular bacteria in the gut benefit the heart by eating the chocolate then fermenting it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are beneficial to the heart.
For dark chocolate lovers, the mysterious link between dark chocolate and heart health seems to have been solved.
Study leader John Finley and his colleagues at the University of Louisiana tested three different cocoa powders, using a model of the digestive tract. The tract contained a series of modified test tubes to help simulate normal digestion. Finely noted that they subjected the materials that were not digestible to anaerobic fermentation using human fecal bacteria.
The researchers found that once the cocoa powder had been digested, long molecules known as polyphenolic polymers stayed within the GI tract.
Cocoa powder is an ingredient in chocolate that contains multiple antioxidant compounds and a small amount of dietary fiber.
Finley explained in a statement, “In our study we found that the fiber is fermented and the large polyphenolic polymers are metabolized to smaller molecules, which are more easily absorbed. These smaller polymers exhibit anti-inflammatory activity.” He continued, “When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke.”
The researchers found that mixing the fiber from the cocoa and prebiotics will likely improve an individual’s overall health, and help to convert polyphenolics in the gut to anti-inflammatory compounds.
According to Finley, “When you ingest prebiotics, the beneficial gut microbial population increases and outcompetes any undesirable microbes in the gut, like those that cause stomach problems.”
Finley and the researchers said that people may benefit even more from combining dark chocolate with solid fruits, including pomegranate and acai.