Posted on Tue, 17 Jun 14
New research has discovered that cocoa, the nutrient rich component of chocolate, might benefit your heart health by reducing the passage of toxins from your digestive system into your blood.
It might sound far-fetched, but a wealth of research suggests heart disease starts in your digestive system. High fat diets can cause ‘leaky gut’ and a low-level but important elevation of gut-derived toxins in your blood, which over time can increase inflammation and contribute to the development of serious cardiovascular disease (1).
A new study suggests that the well-established heart health benefits of cocoa, may, at least in part, be due to benefits in your digestive system (2).
Researchers have discovered that adding just 8% cocoa to the diets of mice fed a high fat diet was able to improve gut barrier function and reduce gut-derived toxin levels (endotoxemia) in their blood by a remarkable 40%.
The cocoa-enriched diet also reduced several measures of inflammation, which is known to contribute to the development of heart disease.
Does this mean you can eat junk and use cocoa as an antidote? No, but it does suggest that enjoying some dark chocolate or cocoa regularly may have all kinds of unexpected benefits.
- Neves AL, Coelho J, Couto L, et al. Metabolic endotoxemia: a molecular link between obesity and cardiovascular risk. J Mol Endocrinol. 2013 Sep 11;51(2):R51-64.
- Gu Y, Yu S, Park JY, et al. Dietary cocoa reduces metabolic endotoxemia and adipose tissue inflammation in high-fat fed mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2014 Apr;25(4):439-45.