Many years ago, doctors began to suspect that dark chocolate – a dessert that many vegetarians like – is good for health, but they did not know why. But now scientists have figured out the mechanism of beneficial action of dark chocolate!
Doctors have discovered that a certain type of beneficial bacteria in the gut is able to consume the nutrients in dark chocolate, converting them into enzymes that are good for the heart and even protect against heart attacks.
This study, conducted by scientists at Louisiana State University (USA), for the first time showed the relationship between the consumption of dark chocolate and the promotion of cardiovascular health.
One of the researchers who worked on this project, student Maria Moore, explains this discovery this way: “We found that there are two types of bacteria in the intestines – “good” and “bad”. Beneficial bacteria, including bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, can feed on dark chocolate.” These bacteria are anti-inflammatory. Other bacteria, she said, on the contrary, cause stomach irritation, gas and other problems – in particular, these are the well-known Clostridia and E. Coli bacteria.
John Finlay, MD, who led the study, said: “When these (produced by beneficial bacteria – Vegetarian) substances are absorbed by the body, they prevent inflammation of the heart muscle tissue, which in the long term reduces the risk of heart attack.” He explained that cocoa powder contains antioxidants, including catechin and epicatechin, as well as a small amount of fiber. In the stomach, both are poorly digested, but when they reach the intestines, beneficial bacteria “take over” them, breaking down difficult-to-digest substances into more easily consumed ones, and as a result, the body receives another portion of trace elements useful for the heart.
Dr. Finley also stressed that the combination of dark chocolate (how much of it is not reported) and prebiotics has a particularly good effect on health. The fact is that prebiotics can significantly increase the content of beneficial bacteria in the intestines and effectively additionally feed this population with chocolate to further strengthen digestion.
Prebiotics, the doctor explained, are, in fact, substances that a person cannot absorb, but which are eaten by beneficial bacteria. In particular, such bacteria are found in fresh garlic and thermally processed whole grain flour (i.e. in bread). Perhaps this is not the best news – after all, eating bitter chocolate with fresh garlic and eating bread seems to be very problematic!
But Dr. Finlay also said that eating dark chocolate is beneficial when combined not only with prebiotics, but also with fruits, especially pomegranates. Probably no one will object to such a delicious dessert – which, as it turns out, is also healthy!