In a Spanish study it was found that regular consumption of dietary fiber-rich soluble cocoa products improves bowel habits.
Dietary fiber (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.
AdvertisementSoluble 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 flatulence.
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 period.
Two subjective 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