Is Chocolate Good for Your Gut?

Is Chocolate Good for Your Gut?

Mayans concocted a bitter, frothy, hot brew from roasted cocoa bean paste, chili peppers and cornmeal. Later the Aztecs adopted the custom—but sipped what they called Chocolatl at room temperature; Montezuma is said to have downed 50 cups a day.

Mayans and Aztecs revered the cocoa bean’s flavor and even used it as currency. They didn’t suspect that chocolate’s true powers were displayed in their guts. One study reveals that the magic cocoa bean acts as a PRE-biotic; cocoa’s nondigestible components, including fiber, encourage growth of beneficial PRO-biotics, such as bifidobacterium and lactobacillus.

As these good gut bacteria feast on the chocolate, they ferment it, producing compounds that help tamp down potentially harmful bacteria like E. coli, ease inflammation, promote heart health, and aid digestion (preventing Montezuma’s revenge, perhaps!). That happy tango helps keep your immune system balanced.

But hold off on chocolate syrups and candy bars! They’re loaded with added sugar and not much chocolate goodness. We recommend you enjoy 1/2 ounce of 70 percent dark chocolate, no less than a couple times a week, and no more than once a day. One-half ounce delivers 85 calories and 6 grams of fat—3.5 of them a saturated fat that your liver wonderfully converts to a healthy fat on its first pass thru. Our favorite ways to use that half-ounce is added to a spicy tomato sauce over grilled chicken, grated into black beans with a dash of cinnamon, or melted into a cup of coffee for an after-dinner treat.

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

How to Make Gas Go Unnoticed
How to Make Gas Go Unnoticed
The average person passes gas about 14 times a day, and normally it doesn't smell bad. But what about when it does? Here's one tip. Go easy on eggs, ...
Read More
How does the body make ammonia?
Jumo HealthJumo Health
Cells in the body need protein to do their jobs. They get this protein from food and from the body's...
More Answers
5 Foods for Healthy Digestion
5 Foods for Healthy Digestion5 Foods for Healthy Digestion5 Foods for Healthy Digestion5 Foods for Healthy Digestion
Reach for these when your tummy rumbles.
Start Slideshow
When Is It Time to Call the Pediatrician?
When Is It Time to Call the Pediatrician?