Health benefits of dark chocolate enhanced by gut bacteria.

choc-150x150A new study has detailed the reason behind the health benefits of chocolate in a finding which will delight chocoholics. Previous studies have documented that chocolate is an anti-oxidant with numerous health benefits instrumental in preventing heart problems, liver disease, and stroke. Now researchers, from the Louisiana State University, have presented the exact mechanism behind chocolates health benefits at the 247th & Exposition of the (ACS).

Bacteria in the stomach chomp on chocolate and convert it into ant-inflammatory compounds through a fermentation process. “We found that there are two kinds of microbes in the gut: the ‘good’ ones and the ‘bad’ ones,” explained Maria Moore, an undergraduate student and one of the study’s researchers. “The good microbes, such as and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate,” she said. “When you eat dark chocolate, they grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory.”

“When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke,” said John Finley, Ph.D., the lead .

Chocolate contains cocoa powder, an ingredient in chocolate. Cocoa powder is full of polyphenolic, or antioxidant, compounds such as catechin and epicatechin, and a small amount of dietary fiber. When the components reach the stomach the beneficial metabolize polyphenolic polymers into smaller , which are more easily absorbed. These smaller polymers exhibit anti-inflammatory activity.

Finley suggested combining the fiber in cocoa with prebiotics in order to improve a person’s overall health and help convert polyphenolics in the stomach into anti-inflammatory compounds. “When you ingest prebiotics, the beneficial gut microbial population increases and out competes any undesirable microbes in the gut, like those that cause stomach problems,” he said.

Source

 . “Precise reason for health benefits of dark chocolate: Thank hungry gut microbes.”

D. Esser, M. Mars, E. Oosterink, A. Stalmach, M. Muller, L. A. Afman. Dark chocolate consumption improves leukocyte adhesion factors and vascular function in overweight men. The , 2013; 28 (3): 1464 DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-239384

E. Zomer, A. Owen, D. J. Magliano, D. Liew, C. M. Reid. The effectiveness and cost effectiveness of dark chocolate consumption as prevention therapy in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease: best case scenario analysis using a Markov model. BMJ, 2012; 344 (may30 3): e3657 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e3657

Karin Ried, Thomas Sullivan, Peter Fakler, Oliver R Frank and Nigel P Stocks. Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. BMC Medicine, 2010; DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-8-39

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