In a Spanish
study it was found that regular consumption of dietary fiber-rich soluble cocoa
products improves bowel habits.
(DF) has always been promoted for its health benefits. Its therapeutic and
preventive effect on a range of bowel and colon diseases, including colon
cancer has long been established.
Soluble DF is readily fermented, facilitates bowel
movement and brings about increased fecal biomass excretion, besides lowering
the risks for heart diseases, lowering blood sugar levels in diabetics and
improving gastrointestinal function.
The recommended dose of dietary fiber is 38gm/day and 25 gm/day for men and
women respectively, but this level is never quite reached.
Few evidence supports the
role of synthetic fibers, in lowering cardiovascular risks, maintaining
glycemic levels and in improving gastrointestinal function. However, DF is also
known to have some undesirable side effects such as bloating, diarrhea and
The cocoa bean has an
outer coat (bran) that contains high levels of soluble DF. During chocolate
production the outer coat is removed, while in the case of other cocoa products
the bran of the cocoa seeds is mixed in the product. Besides, additional fiber
could be added to this supplement without bringing about changes in the organic
nature of the product.
The present study attempted to analyze the effect of two soluble
products DF A and B, with different levels of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP),
on DF intake and on the person's bowel habits. Fecal marker, a daily diary and
questionnaires were the tools used.
Healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 55, who were
non-vegetarians, non-smokers, non-pregnant women were included in the study. Care was also taken to see that the subjects did not take any medications or
supplements that affected gut motility, six months prior to the study.
Two soluble cocoa products
were used DF A and B. DF A has 15%NSP while DF B contains 22% NSP and
supplemented cocoa bran. The subjects were encouraged to have two servings of
either A or B daily along with 200 ml of skimmed milk.
In order to reduce
inter-individual differences certain fruits and vegetables were also restricted
in the diet of the subjects during the study period. Subjects were asked to
maintain the same food habits and same physical activity throughout the study
questionnaires were used to assess the effect of the soluble cocoa products.
The answers were then compared with the information on the daily diary and also
with an information assessment tool.
The study concluded that
including cocoa products in daily diet increased the intake of dietary fibers
to the required levels and also promoted healthier bowel habits. The subjective
questionnaire revealed that the cocoa products were well tolerated by the
subjects and did not cause adverse GI symptoms. Continuous intake of DF helps
an equilibrium to be reached between the gas-producing and the gas-utilizing
bacteria, and this helps to ease out the adverse bowel symptoms.
The study concludes that
two servings of cocoa product increases dietary fiber intake, without causing
weight gain, and promotes healthier bowel movements.
Reference - Effects of regularly consuming dietary fibre rich
soluble cocoa products on bowel habits in healthy subjects: a free-living,
two-stage, randomized, crossover, single-blind intervention; Beatriz et al;
Nutrition and Metabolism 2012