HOW MICROBES MAKE DARK CHOCOLATE HEALTHY
In a recent article on Mercola.com, Dr. Mercola digs into the rumor that dark chocolate is an anti-oxidant. Good news – it is! Dark, not milk, chocolate is not only rich in antioxidants, but is an anti-inflammatory that is good for your heart and blood vessels. And the reason for those benefits is almost certainly because of the microbes in your digestive tract.
Dark chocolate has only recently been called a “good” food. While it’s been known that cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants, it was previously thought that these molecules were too large to be digested properly, and thus could not pass their benefits on to us. Recent studies, however, have shown that certain microbes that live in your digestive tract can actually break down these molecules and begin the fermentation process. This transforms them into anti-inflammatory compounds that are absorbed into your system and benefit your health.
So dark chocolate is good for you – but what, exactly, are the benefits? We can talk about antioxidants until the sun goes down, but what does that actually mean? Well for one, dark chocolate has cardiovascular benefits. As an anti-inflammatory, it reduces your risk of certain disorders, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Dark chocolate also reduces the clumping of platelets (blood clots), which may result in a reduced risk of heart attack. Finally, dark chocolate may help your brain after a stroke by shielding nerve cells from damage.
Keep in mind that all these benefits apply to dark chocolate only – and plenty of companies try to label their products as dark chocolate while secretly cramming them full of sweeteners. So when buying chocolate, check the label for GMO content, sugar levels, and what kind of fat is included. Stearic acid or coconut oil are ok, soybean oil is a no-no.
For more information of the benefits of dark chocolate, be sure to visit Mercola.com.
Image Credit: Alexander Stein