Dark Chocolate Benefits Improved by Fiber

Add pomegranate to your chocolate, says researcher Finley, to aid it's digestion, health benefits.
Add pomegranate to your chocolate, says researcher Finley, to aid it’s digestion and health benefits.

For chocolate lovers (and chocolate makers) it has been a great decade or so. Scientific research continues to prove what our brains have been saying for years; chocolate really IS good for us.

Research over the past decade or so has studied dark chocolate and its polyphenolic compounds, such as catechin and epicatechin, for their effects on inflammation, and cardiac and endothelial cell function. Today, from the American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, TX, we learn new details about how dark chocolate brings its health benefits.

Before beneficial compounds in dark chocolate can reach the heart and other tissues in the body, digestive processes must occur to release the beneficial compounds from the chocolate.

Researcher John Finley and cohorts from Louisiana State University created a model digestive system by which to study what happens when cocoa combines with typical gut bacteria.

Their research showed that bacterial species in the colon ferment the fiber found in cocoa, which in turn aids in digestion of the larger polyphenols in cocoa, into smaller, more easily absorbed molecules. These smaller molecules, the catechins and epicatechins then enter the bloodstream and exert their anti-inflammatory effects.

Finley emphasized the role of dietary fiber, such as the fiber in the cocoa powders tested in this research, in the digestion process. He noted that prebiotics, carbohydrates in foods like raw garlic or cooked whole wheat flour, while not digested by humans, aid digestion and absorption of healthful food components, in this case polyphenols in dark chocolate.  Continue reading “Dark Chocolate Benefits Improved by Fiber”

Fun with Chemistry for Valentine’s Day

Image credit: Morguefile

Looking for last-minute gift ideas? Wondering what chemistry has to do with Valentine’s Day? The chemists of the American Chemical Society (ACS) have curated a web page called Valentine’s Day Chemistry that offers gift ideas (for example, make a crystal heart using pipe cleaners, borax and hot water), explains the chemistry behind chocolate and flowers, shows a video that equates chemical bonding to people interacting at a party and more. The links and videos offer something for everyone, whether you want to have fun with friends and family of all ages or just want to learn something new about chemistry.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Paying it Forward: A Promega Employee’s Experience With the American Chemical Society

bharatACSIf you are a scientist you know the American Chemical Society (ACS) for their high quality journals (all 39 of them) and for their annual meetings and conferences. But did you know the ACS also focuses on community education and outreach? The ACS mission is “Improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.” According to their website, ACS has 189 local chapters at colleges and universities around the country. Bharat Mankani (in the white coat in the photo) tells us about his work with the ACS chapter at Texas A&M.

1. How long have you worked here at Promega and what do you do? Continue reading “Paying it Forward: A Promega Employee’s Experience With the American Chemical Society”