This Type Of Chocolate Will Improve Your Gut and Mood, New Study Says

Daily consumption of a small square of this chocolate is beneficial to your health! 

For any nerdy Potter out there, the scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Professor Lupin gives Harry a piece of chocolate after seeing a frightening dementor is likely very familiar. He said, "Eat it." "You'll feel better." 

Is the claim, however, supported by science? According to a recent study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, eating chocolate to lift your mood is pretty good advice, surprisingly healthful. 

Dark chocolate with 85 percent cocoa was related to a higher mood and a healthy gut in randomized control research with participants ranging from 20 to 30 years old. The trial divided participants into two groups based on cocoa content. One group ate dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, and the other ate dark chocolate with 85% cocoa.

Each group consumed their prescribed chocolate every day for three weeks. Participants were evaluated at the end of the experiment using a Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), which may track weekly emotional changes in clients. Those who ate 85 percent dark chocolate had a lower "negative effect" from the PANAS than those who ate 70 percent dark chocolate. 

The study's authors went even further, investigating the mood-altering effects of dark chocolate and how they are connected to the gut microbiota. 

Multiple studies have found a link between gut health and mental health. Eating foods that include chemical additives and are ultra-processed, according to Harvard Health, can harm the beneficial bacteria in your gut, raise your risk of disease, and decrease your mood. On the contrary, a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry found a link between eating a healthy diet and avoiding depression, such as the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is pro-inflammatory and high in gut-healthy foods. 

A diet including a healthy amount of prebiotic and probiotic foods is required to maintain a healthy gut. Dietary fiber is a prebiotic food that feeds the "good" bacteria in your stomach and maintains your digestive system healthy. Probiotic foods are living bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to your digestive system and can assist in the improvement and repair of your gut flora (the bacteria that lives in your digestive tracts). 

Due to its high fiber content, dark chocolate functions as a prebiotic in the gut. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 101-gram bar of dark chocolate with a percentage of 70% to 85% cocoa includes 11 grams of fiber (around 3.5 ounces). The higher the percentage of cocoa in a bar, the more fiber it contains—and the more prebiotic goodness it provides for your gut bacteria to eat. 

So, if you're in a sour mood and want something sweet, eat a piece of dark chocolate. You're going to feel a lot better. 

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