This Valentine’s Day, don’t worry about eating too much chocolate. Cocoa—the main ingredient of chocolate—has been found to prevent intestinal complaints and development of colon cancer caused by chemical substances in diet.
The scientific community has now categorized cocoa as one of the “superfoods,” which are loaded with excellent amounts of bioactive compounds that offer potential health benefits and prevent diseases.
“Being exposed to different poisons in the diet like toxins, mutagens and procarcinogens, the intestinal mucus is very susceptible to pathologies,” María Ángeles Martín Arribas, lead author of the study and researcher at the U.K.’s Institute of Food Science and Technology and Nutrition, said in a press release.
“Foods like cocoa, which is rich in polyphenols, seem to play an important role in protecting against disease.”
In their study, researchers induced colon cancer in rats with the chemical azoxymethane, and found that rats fed on a cocoa-rich diet developed significantly fewer precancerous lesions in their colons. The rats also had a marked improvement in their cellular antioxidant defense.
The study also observed in the rats with the cocoa diet an increase in apoptosis, a mechanism to prevent uncontrolled cellular divisions.
The research was published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
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