Cocoa! Your friendly bacteria uses it to make you healthy!

We’ve heard about the health benefits of dark chocolate.  Fellow Oatie, Sebrina, did a great post about them. Chocolate contains a group of substances called polyphenols that are responsible for lots of the good effects.  So, what’s new?

Research from the Dept. of Food Science at Louisiana State University has uncovered a big reason that it is so healthy. This new information helps to unravel some of the mystery.  I bet you know where I’m heading  … yep, our friendly bacteria (once again) are responsible for most of the health benefits!!

I’ve talked a lot about our friendly bacteria (the “microbiota”).  The reason we consume foods that contain probiotics, or take probiotic supplements, is to increase the amount of friendly bacteria that resides in our GI tract.  My post on Granny Smith apples has a good review.  So, the “friendly bacteria-cocoa connection”?   The study, which used cocoa, showed that:
● Major polyphenols in chocolate are not digested by our digestive enzymes, they are only digested by the microbiota.

●  The digestion of the polyphenols by the microbiota produces epicatechin and catechin, two of the major players in the health benefits of chocolate.

●  Epicatechin and catechin are further processed by the microbiota to create additional pharmabiotics

●  Chocolate contains a prebiotic that  is digested by the microbiota to form small-chain fatty acids.  (SCFA are the major fuel source for the cells that line our GI tract.)

In an unrelated study published this summer, cocoa was found to support blood vessel and cardiovascular health.

In additional research published last month, cocoa was found to protect against abnormal fat storage normally associated with a high fat diet.

Putting these different pieces of information together, here we are again, back to the friendly bacteria, only this time, with chocolate!!  This is awesome!!  I love my friendly bacteria.  I love chocolate.  Nice combo!!

So, are you ready for an over-the-top great, amazing and super easy chocolate mousse recipe (made with cocoa)??  This is so delicious ….. Linda’s Chocolate Mousse!!!

And, of course, there is always hot cocoa, especially as the fall turns into winter.  I don’t know about you, but I could take a cup right now!

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