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April 26, 2014

Healthy Eating I Can Get Behind

I love chocolate. Sometimes, it's all that gets me through the day. I love to give chocolate and I love to receive chocolate. I should wear a sign: "Will massage for chocolate."

I am a bit picky about my chocolate, though. I prefer dark. M&Ms give me a sore throat - I don't know what's going on there. In my opinion, the darker the chocolate, the better, up to a point. It can get sour and bitter beyond 80% cacao. Schafenburger makes an excellent chocolate bar with cocoa nibs that add a bit of crunch. The workhorse in my chocolate repertoire is Lindt 85%. I will eat Dove bites, though they are a bit sweeter; they are not as waxy as other chocolates in their price point.

And now there's even more reasons to eat chocolate. It's good for you and now science is getting closer to understanding why. According to new findings from Virginia Tech and Louisiana State University, gut bacteria in the colon breaks down cocoa into small metabolites that, when absorbed, reduce cardiac inflammation. Undigested cocoa in the gut also ferments and releases substances that reduce cholesterol.

Another health-giving twist to this entire process: The gut microbes that digested the cocoa were desirable probiotics like lactobacillus. Their numbers appeared to increase after the introduction of the cocoa, while less-salutary microbes like staphylococcus declined in number.

The best way to get the health benefits of cocoa: forget the candy, go for a couple of tablespoons of straight unsweetened cocoa powder in oatmeal or on ice cream (in moderation).

Posted by linda at April 26, 2014 10:14 AM

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