Let’s Talk Chocolate
True chocolate is made from cocoa powder, derived from the cocoa bean, originally called cacao from the tree or plant. That’s real dark chocolate. All the rest are phonies and are unable to say (like dark chocolate can), that they are natural antioxidants and can likely help prevent and cure many common (passing and life-long) illnesses. The American Chemical Society recently released findings in regards to dark chocolate being considered as a component in anti-oxidation.
I don’t understand. What does this really mean?
I am glad you asked. When you get bruised, or you have an infection, for example, inflammation occurs. Inflammation is when your good cells run to the rescue of the bad ones intruding, which means there’s bad stuff around. Oxidation equals inflammation. So you want “anti” oxidants. Keep everything healthy and you’ll keep inflammation down.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that aid in digestion. When antibiotics are taken, it kills off the bad and the good. It’s important to replace the natural, good bacteria with probiotics, such as acidophilus (contained in most live-culture yogurts) and even yeast. In fact, there may be up to 400 different strains of healthy bacteria.
So when any form of probiotic is ingested, it enters the stomach first. One effect that often occurs is that stomach acids decimate the good bacteria before it gets to the intestinal tract. We want bacteria in our intestines too; harmful bacteria can create problems and inflammation if the good stuff doesn’t come to the rescue. That’s where prebiotics can step in.
Prebiotics are basically the food products that good bacteria live on. We want to feed the good guys and make them multiply. This is where dark chocolate comes back into the picture.
As mentioned, cocoa is involved in chocolate. Cocoa powder contains a dietary fiber that does not digest easily. That is how a prebiotic food is categorized; it is difficult for the stomach to break down the molecules, so it actually ferments. The fiber eventually metabolizes and transforms into smaller molecules. It is these edible portions of the fiber from the cocoa that the good bacteria devour.
Now the healthy bacteria is thriving and multiplying. And here’s the bonus: because the stomach acids don’t devastate this hard-to-digest material, it makes its passage into the intestines all the way to your colon. This is great news because the anti-oxidant acts an anti-inflammatory throughout your entire digestive system.
Next time you grab a square off that dark chocolate bar, don’t feel so guilty. But remember, everything in moderation. Oh, and by the way, if you run out of cocoa and you’re still in the mood for a prebiotic, you can always grab some raw oats, garlic, or jicama.