Chocolate Is Good For You Thanks to Gut Bacteria

On the heels of great news that dark chocolate really is good for you, researchers have found out some new crap. A study about why chocolate is good for you points to the bacteria that lurk inside your colon.

"It's a rather disgusting process," food science professor John Finley apologizes in advance. (Maybe save your chocolate binging for later.) The scientists wanted to test how microbes break down cocoa powder in your gut. They first doused it with enzymes like those in your stomach and then stuck it inside an artificial colon filled with the bacteria-rich feces of volunteers. As Scientific American explains:

The microbes then feasted on what was left of the cocoa after its passage through the mock digestive system. They fermented these compounds—flavonols that include catechin and epicatechin, which are also found in green tea—into smaller anti-inflammatories that could be absorbed into the bloodstream.

The caveat is that these results, presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, are for cocoa powder—not for fat- and sugar-filled Hershey's bars. Finley tells NPR he stirs some into his oatmeal with berries in the morning. I guess that sounds pretty healthy, but not quite as great as eating chocolate bars for breakfast. [Scientific American]

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