While dark chocolate has been touted as a “superfood” for many years now, studies on the popular treat’s health benefits have been fairly vague. Recently, though, researchers have concluded that dark chocolate is good for the gut.
Researchers with the American Chemical Society in Dallas, Texas, presented evidence of how dark chocolate consumption benefits the digestive track. In their experiment, they exposed multiple types of cocoa powder to digestive juices and enzymes within a modified test tube replica of the digestive system. After simulated digestion occurred, researchers discovered long molecules called polyphenol polymers, which remained within the gastrointestinal tract. These long molecules were too large to cross the walls of the gut and be used as nutrients, but they found that those long molecules do a lot of work breaking down molecules in the colon to extract more nutrients. The extracted nutrients were also found to be anti-inflammatory, which can prevent or delay some cardiovascular diseases linked with inflammation.
The researchers recommend a daily serving of about two tablespoons of dark chocolate or cocoa powder. Choosing to consume it in powder form will bypass the extra fat and sugar that comes from dark chocolate in solid form. You can mix cocoa powder into smoothies, oatmeal, or even just drink it as hot chocolate. Studies are on the horizon to extract the healthful qualities of dark chocolate and convert that into pill form.
Short-term studies in the past have shown that dark chocolate can decrease blood pressure. Between those findings and the most recent ones related to the gut, it seems worth exploring the health benefits of dark chocolate even more.
As you shop for dark chocolate, make sure you’re purchasing fair-trade and vegan chocolate, to ensure that your money isn’t going toward human or animal enslavement. Refer to the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List to find great chocolate options. You can even download the chocolate list app for iPhone and Android.
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