For centuries, people have known the health benefits of eating dark chocolate without knowing why, until recently. Researchers from Louisiana State University have just found the scientific reason.
The team reported that certain bacteria in the gut will "eat" the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds. When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke.
Cocoa powder, an ingredient in chocolate, contains several antioxidants, called polyphenols, which are poorly digested and absorbed, but when they reach the colon, the desirable bacteria works to break them down into smaller molecules, which are more easily to be absorbed and exhibit anti-inflammatory behavior.
The bacteria also help to break down the fiber in cocoa powder into short fatty chain acids, which get absorbed and can have an effect on satiety, meaning help us feel full.
So far, the experiment was down on man-made digestive tract and the team yet to verify the results in real human digestive tract.