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article imageDark chocolate is good for you, thanks to your gut microbes

By Tim Sandle     Mar 22, 2014 in Science
The bacteria that populate the human gastrointestinal tract help digest dark chocolate, releasing anti-inflammatory compounds, according to a new study.
According to Louisiana State University’s Maria Moore, microbes like Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria that reside in the human gut “feast on chocolate.” She added "When you eat dark chocolate, these bacteria grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory."
In studies designed to model the human digestive tract, the BBC reports that food scientists tested three cocoa powders, subjecting the substances to anaerobic fermentation using human fecal bacteria (to mimic what goes on in the digestive system). The researchers found that, within the mock gut, the cocoa’s fiber content is fermented.
The implications of this is that the breakdown product could be anti-inflammatory. The research also suggested that gut microbes could help reduce a person’s feeling of hunger after having digested cocoa, according to NPR.
Although the findings have potential implications for different medical conditions, the researchers have cautioned that the apparent benefits of consuming cocoa powder do not extend to gobbling dark chocolate bars from the corner store.
The research was presented at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in Dallas, Texas during March 2014.
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