Why Chocolate Is Good For Your Gut
Did you know that chocolate is actually good for your gut health? Let me explain. Not all chocolate's great. Not all chocolate's terrible. So I'm going to really clarify this in this topic.
I'm Ashley Oswald, I'm a registered dietitian and founder of Oswald Digestive Clinic where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues. So gas, bloat, diarrhea, and/or constipation, and if you or anybody, you know, wants to get started with our clinic you can just schedule an appointment with us and we'll help guide you from there. So without further ado, let's dive right in.
So let's start by talking about how cocoa is even made. The cocoa bean is picked from the tree it's open and the beans on the inside are actually white and gooey at that point. Those are fermented for about two weeks and then they are left to dry and they turn into that brown dried bean that we're more familiar with.
And then this can be roasted to create more flavor to it. And it's been prepared and made into all these products that we see in the store. So traditionally, in the Mayan culture, Xocolatl was the drink of the gods.
In other words, traditionally chocolate started as this Xocolatl drink, and it's kind of transformed into all these different products that we have today. Now chocolate gets a bad rap, not because of the cocoa or the raw chocolate, but because these products that are made often have a ton of added sugars, some of them can be up to 50 grams of added sugar in a bar.
And for context, the world health organization recommends we stay under 25 grams of added sugars. So if you're having some chocolate and you're getting 50 grams, that's double the recommendation.
However, on the other side, something like dark chocolate or those raw cocoa nibs, which is no added sugar, it's just the raw cocoa, have like zero to maybe even six grams of added sugar, if you're buying like an 80% to 95% dark chocolate. So it really varies. So just always check your nutrition facts label on what you're buying to see what the serving size is.
And then what the amount of added sugars is. And per day, again, you should keep it under 25 grams of added sugar. So considering this, that sugar addition is really where we calculate gets a bad rap, but for the pure, cocoa part of it, or if you're like adding cocoa nibs to your smoothies, or just like powdered cocoa to your smoothies or your food, that has really great health benefits, especially for the gut.
High in something called polyphenols and these polyphenols can actually suppress bad gut bacteria, the bad microbes in your gut, and it can help to encourage the growth of good microbes. So we have this full microbiotic community in our gut mostly in our large intestine and we just need it to be in balance. So most people actually have E.coli in their gut, which we think E.coli, that's really bad.
That's a gut infection, but if we have a good balance and enough good bacteria in there, it's going to out-compete and you're not going to have negative health outcomes. And the polyphenols in cocoa can help with this. Food is medicine. Right?
So I'm going to share next some of the products that you can look for with some of these functional ingredients like peppermint, we're going to talk about in specific, we're going to talk about a couple more that can have even more added, gut and health benefits to you. But first I want to share our FREE GUIDE: 5 ways to improve your gut health that is available for download. This is definitely for you and I think you're going to find a lot of benefit from it.
Why Chocolate Is Good For Your Gut?
All right, let's get into the types of chocolates that you can steer towards. If you don't have a strong preference one way or another, that could have even more added health benefits.
So as briefly mentioned, peppermint oil, now you'll have to see how much is added to your chocolate. So whether it's going to have therapeutic benefits or not, peppermint oil can help to improve the distention of the gut, and that can cause pain. It can help to improve gas and then also help to improve constipation. On the flip side, peppermint oil, if you're dealing with acid reflux could make acid reflux worse. So this wouldn't be a great option.
If you have moderate to severe acid reflux. The next one I want to talk about is turmeric. Yes, there is turmeric chocolate.
It might not be very common, but turmeric, which is that orange spice that you often see in curries comes from India. A lot of talk about its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which is true because of the curcumin in the turmeric, but for gut health, it can help to improve indigestion, and then the pain that could come about because of that.
So the peppermint and the turmeric, and then again, I really want to drive home this message of looking for the darker chocolates and trying to adapt to your taste. That way you're not getting in too many added sugars.
And the last thing I want to add is that there is a very small amount of caffeine in chocolate. It's like 12 milligrams for three tablespoons. The tip of your thumb is about one tablespoon or like 54 chocolate chips. It'd be the equivalent of about like three tablespoons will be the equivalent of about an eighth of a cup of coffee to put it into perspective.
So I share because if you're sensitive to caffeine, you might want to just avoid having your chocolate at night or before bed, if you have trouble sleeping, especially.
Hope you learned a lot about today's topic! Have a nice day and see you at the next one!
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH