Home Health The surprising 'healthy' sweet treat that could stop you from dying early

The surprising 'healthy' sweet treat that could stop you from dying early

Professor Tim Spector has revealed a sweet treat that could benefit your heart, boost your gut bacteria and even stop you from dying early. It’s good news for chocolate fans, as long as they opt for the right kind.

The professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and founder of the Zoe health app explained that delicious cocoa hides big health benefits. It actually beats some superfoods when it comes to key chemicals.

Taking to his Instagram page, the nutrition expert said: “If, like me, you love chocolate, good news for you. Dark chocolate is a health food and we should start talking about it in that context. It’s packed with polyphenols; it’s a source of fibre.”

In fact, one study found the total polyphenol content of cocoa powder exceeds that of superfoods like açai, blueberries and pomegranates. Polyphenols such as flavanols act as “rocket fuel” for your gut microbes, enhancing the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing the number of pathogenic or bad bacteria.

Surprisingly, a bar of dark chocolate can also pack a punch of fibre, which is found in plant foods like vegetables. Professor Spector said: “One thing that always surprises people is how much fibre is in chocolate too, around 7–12 grams (g) in 100 g of 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate which increases with the cocoa percentage.

“The 85 percent Lindt bar in this video contains 15 g of fibre per 100g bar or 6g per 40g serving. These are significant levels when you remember that the average European eats a total of 15g or less a day. Although I’m not suggesting you replace vegetables with dark chocolate!”

Apart from its high content of polyphenols and fibre, cocoa could also boost your longevity. The expert said: “A massive study came out recently [that] looked at 20,000 people, giving them cocoa extracts. And they followed them for 3.5 years. Compared to people on placebos, it showed a reduction of 27 percent in people dying of heart disease if they were taking cocoa supplements.

“So this is fantastic news. It means that I can carry on eating my chocolate every night. I’m going to pick ones that are over 70 percent in content. So there’s not too much sugar, and I always look at the back to make sure there are minimal amounts of ingredients.”

The professor recommended making sure you go for bars that don’t contain emulsifiers and have the highest percentage of cocoa so you can enjoy the taste but minimise the sugar content, while maximising the polyphenol and fibre content.

He added: “The artisan ones are always the best. They’ve only got, you know, two or three ingredients in them and packed with cocoa as fermented beans. You know it’s doing you good.”


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