The latest medical research believes chocolate could boost our heart health and even help to fight heart disease.
Researchers from The Louisiana State University have found that chocolate contains useful anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart.
This is thanks to the natural fermenting process that happens in our stomach when we the chocolate we munch on mixes with bacteria in our gut.
These gut microbes, such as Bifidobacterium, feast on the chocolate and release these beneficial antioxidant compounds.
If you enjoy your chocolate with fruit and nuts then you could be boosting this fermentation process.
The US research team presented their findings at the American chemical Society meeting recently.
The team’s findings were based on testing cocoa powder, but the scientists say that similar antioxidant properties – falvanols – can be found in solid dark chocolate.
Chocolate could hold the answer for future treatment of heart disease as well.
The US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute will be trialling a chocolate pill later this year.
The organisation will team up with chocolate manufacturer Mars, which has already patented an extraction process that will release high concentrations of these beneficial compounds from cocoa to be used in capsules.
But before you rush out to the closest convenience store you may want to take some caution.
“You’re not going to get these protective flavanols in most of the candy on the market. Cocoa flavanols are often destroyed by the processing,” Dr JoAnn Mason, who will be leading the chocolate pill trial, argues.
The study will aim to see whether there are health benefits from chocolate ingredients – minus the sugar and fat, Mason said.
So it looks like for now a diet rich in fruit and vegetables as well as an active lifestyle remain the call of the day for keeping our hearts healthy, but perhaps the occasional square of dark chocolate may help too!