Chocolate – How it Affects Your Microbiome!
Written by Bethany Ugarte (@lilsipper)
Good news for all you chocolate lovers (so like, everyone! LOL). If you struggle with digestive issues or maintaining a healthy weight, you’ll want to read every bit of this!
Cacao’s prebiotic properties
I personally consume chocolate at least 2x a day EVERY day and have for the past 3-4 years. No, it’s not just because I love it, but it actually has pre-biotic properties to help fuel the good bacteria in your digestive tract! WHAT?! Research shows that cacao has a positive effect on gut microbiome and can help rebalance digestive health!
Scientists from Louisiana State University reported the friendly bacteria in our gut can use cacao powder to make compounds known to actually reduce inflammation!
Gut health and inflammation
There have been several studies showing the consumption of cocoa and how it increases the levels of friendly bacteria in the gut. One study from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences measured higher levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species in the intestines of human volunteers who drank high-cocoa chocolate milk for 4 weeks.
The same team previously revealed that components in cocoa can reduce the growth of Clostridium histolyticum bacteria, which are present in the guts of individuals with digestive issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
And check this out! In pigs, higher levels of the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species were also found in the colon in response to a high-cocoa diet and known inflammation levels were reduced!
Chocolate as part of a healthful diet
Remember, just because these studies support the claim that cacao can be beneficial for our gut flora, cacao does not equal chocolate.
The cacao used in research was not our everyday chocolate bars filled with refined sugar, preservatives, lecithins, and added flavorings. The benefit you can get will only come from pure dark cacao (like the kind I regularly consume).
When choosing a chocolate bar, look for at least 80% cacao and make sure it’s free from refined sugar (coconut sugar or raw cane sugar is alright). I tend to always opt for 100% cacao.
Hope this was helpful and as always, would love to hear your thoughts on @lilsipper! See you there!