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

Elevating “bliss” the natural way

Sun RunnersMarijuana is a highly controversial substance with roughly an equal number of supporters and opponents of its use for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is a dry, shredded mix of flowers, stems, seeds and leaves of the Hemp plant Cannabis sativa. New studies reporting the efficacy of medicinal marijuana in clinical conditions surface on a fairly regular basis, with the latest being a reported treatment for seizures. This constant influx of new information shows how little we know about the substance and how it works in the human body. So what do we know about this substance? While many psychoactive drugs clearly fall into the category of either stimulant, depressant or hallucinogen, Cannabis exhibits a mix of all properties, perhaps leaning the most towards hallucinogenic or psychedelic, though with other effects quite pronounced as well. Continue reading