What Makes Dark Chocolate Healthy?

The bacteria inside us love it: researchers

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 23, 2014 8:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – You've probably heard about the highly convenient health benefits of dark chocolate. As io9 points out, the stuff is good for your heart, your brain, and even your teeth. But just why is it so healthy? Researchers are explaining that the healthy bacteria in our digestive systems love dark chocolate. When they munch on it, the process releases compounds that reduce cardiovascular inflammation. That cuts our heart disease and stroke risk, io9 reports.

The experts reached their conclusions by studying how cocoa powder interacts with digestive enzymes and bacteria contained in our feces, the Los Angeles Times reports. They learned that certain molecules from the chocolate can't be absorbed by our bodies on their own. Fortunately, once those molecules get to our colons, the bacteria take action. "These little guys say, 'Hey—there's something in there that I can use,' and they start to break it down," says Louisiana State researcher John Finley. About two tablespoons a day of cocoa powder appears to offer a health boost, he says. Unfortunately, the sugar and fat in chocolate candy aren't so good for us—so Finley opts to put cocoa powder on his oatmeal. (But soon, we may be able to just take "chocolate pills" to get the benefits.)

Researchers are emphasizing the benefits of dark chocolate.   (Shutterstock)
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