Tag Archives: chocolate

All my organs hurt and I think I’m going blind.

People, this is how you should eat.

There have been a lot of diet postings lately, and they are some of the healthiest diets you could imagine.  Please click the links to get the full versions, which include lifestyle tidbits, other pearls, and WHY.  And take notes.  I’ve just listed some of the foods here for the sake of brevity (and as an excuse to link to the diets).

Disclaimer: all of these diets fall somewhere on the “low carb” spectrum.  I don’t eat low carb because I have to*, I do so because it’s healthy, convenient for my lifestyle, and I rather like the foods.  *I say I don’t “have to” because I have no underlying health problems or carb-sensitive GI issues.  The people below are also far healthier than most (from what I can gather)… but if you are overweight &/or obesity-prone, or glucose-intolerant &/or diabetic, then you might want to consider following any of them.

Hyperlipid (Petro Dobromylskyj)The Optimal Diet
butter, egg yolks, cocoa, dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, sour cream, beef, green veggies.  His stats: BW stable, 28” waist, greying beard.  Peter will outlive us all.  And take over the world if he ever has the desire to do so.

Anna Fagan (Lifextension): Low Carb Paleo, probably keto
eggs, butter, avocado, cheese, shrooms, bacon, salmon, tea, coffee, nuts, sardines, lamb, pork, eggplant, cream  –> “high fat =/= fat.”  She’s currently off studying paleoanthropology somewhere in Turkey (?).

Jane Plain (ItsTheWooo): Ketogenic
cream, sour cream, nuts, butter, beef & fatty meats, pepperoni.  She, too, is rather fit.  The Scribble Pad = diet & lifestyle vs. psychoneuroendocrinology & metabolism (mixed with equal parts humor & gravitas).

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MOA of MCTs – black magic or something less?

MCTs provide a respectable boost in diet-induced thermogenesis (in some studies [eg, Kasai 2002  & Clegg 2012], but not others [Alexandrou 2007]), but I don’t think that’s what does it.

The alternative?  MCTs aren’t “linoleate.” (sorry for lack of suspense)

Alcohol + MCTs vs. corn oil (from Kirpich 2013):


Further, feed rats a diet rich in either coconut oil, olive oil, safflower oil, evening primrose oil, or menhaden oil… and eventually the fat stored in their bodies reflect those fats – eg, linoleate only accumulated in the tissues of those fed safflower & evening primrose oils (Yaqoob 1995) (expect similar results with soybean & corn oils).

Researchers constantly refer to MCTs & coconut oil as “saturated fats,” but I always thought the chain length should be recognized.  Perhaps.  But with regard to certain benefits (eg, hepatoprotection), perhaps not.

Cacao butter has a lot of stearate (a fully saturated 18-carbon fatty acid) but not much linoleate or MCTs.  This linoleate may very well be more of a detriment than stearate or MCTs are a benefit… (with regard to certain benefits [eg, hepatoprotection])Beef and chocolate

(Leslie Roberts, 1988) (she’s talking about stearate)

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Alcohol-proof your liver. SFAs.

it probably has other benefits, too. 

Tissue lipid turnover, adipose vs. liver.

Can the saturated fat & MCTs in dark chocolate & coconut oil protect liver against the ravages of alcohol?  Tonight?

The studies discussed in “The liver is evil but need not be punished.  SFAs”  entailed chronic alcohol feeding in combination with a high saturated fat/MCT diet – the animals were given a liquid diet of complete nutrition and a LOT of booze.   Not very applicable to humans, imo [hopefully].  Which brings up the question: how long does it take for coconut oil & dark chocolate to flex their hepato-protective muscles?

wine and dark chocolate

Fortunately, [if tissue fat composition is in fact the relevant protective factor], unlike adipose fat which hangs around for years (Beynen et al., 1980 & Katan et al., 1997), liver fat appears to turn over quite rapidly.

For example, a single shot of radiolabeled oleate is cleared out of the liver within a few days, whereas it lingers significantly longer in adipose of rats (Iritani et al., 2005).  And this is actually enhanced in rats fed a higher fat diet.fat-free diet

Similarly, a study on diet-induced changes in liver fat in humans showed that after only 3 days of low carb dieting, liver fat significantly declined in 5/10 patients, and in all of them by day 10 (Hollingsworth et al., 2006):liver fat time course

Shoutout to Mike Eades for directing me to this study.  Whatever happens after 3-10 days, I suspect, will reflect the new dietary pattern – you are what you eat?  :/

I don’t put too much stock in generic nutrition textbooks, but those data are rather close to estimates put forth by Frayn, Arner, and Yki-Jarvinen (2006, free full text):Frayn

Translation: while a single meal of dark chocolate and coconut oil may not acutely protect the liver from alcohol [tonight], a few days’ worth just might.


Red meat.   While the saturated fat content of red meat is expected to similarly bolster liver resistance to oxidative stress, another component – carnitine (of the recent TMAO infamy) – may also provide some benefit by enhancing liver fat turnover (Kepka et al., 2011 sorry no full text, so only in theory).  Taurine, also found in red meat, also prevents some alcohol-induced liver pathologies [in rats] (Kerai et al., 1998 & Pushpakiran et al., 2005).

Coffee, too (Gallus et al., 2002Tverdal et al., 2003; Klatsky et al., 2006; Lopez-Garcia et al., 2008Sugiyama et al., 2010).  Probably has more to do with prevention of lipid peroxidation via antioxidant polyphenols.  just sayin’     …compared to the SFA’ers, would those on a high PUFA diet benefit more from coffee in this regard?

The culprit isn’t red meat or TMAO, its cigarettes & sedentary obese HFCS PUFA empty calories – the bona fide confounding factors in most anti-nutrition propaganda.


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Dark chocolate meets probiotics; the bifidobacteriomance continues

or the next big thing in functional foods, Op. 84

Altered gut bacteria can cause a whole host of problems, anywhere from depression and fatigue to ADHD and heartburn.  Thus, while running my daily search for “bifidobacteria,” I happened across these little goodies: 

The Attune Foods Dark Chocolate Probiotic Bar.  Combining probiotics (e.g., bifidobacteria, acidophilus, etc.) with chocolate?!  And with 68% cocoa, I’d expect this bar to deliver at least some of the benefits of dark chocolate (e.g., improved insulin sensitivity). They’re gluten-free and even contain inulin! (my second favorite bifidogenic prebiotic.)

And it packs a big, or rather huge, probiotic punch (6.1 billion B. lactis HN019, L. acidophilus NCFM, & L. casei LC-11).  Attune loses a little cred by trying to disguise their sugar as “evaporated cane juice,” like it’s something inherently healthier than plain old sugar… just like all-natural agave syrup, honey, and organic coconut blossom sugar.  just own it for crying out loud.  On the other hand, at only 6 grams, the sugar in Attune’s bar is harmless especially in the context of the high cocoa content, inclusion of inulin, and whopping dose of probiotics.

But, chocolate & probiotics?  Alas, the curiousity bug had bitten.

Apparently, a lot of companies think dark chocolate is a good vehicle for probiotic delivery.

GI Health’s Probiotic Chocolate is gluten-free and contains a half billion L. helveticus R0052 and B. longum R0175 per serving.  A half-billion is low by conventional standards*, but such standards might be irrelevant if the delivery vehicle (i.e., chocolate) is superior.

*Most probiotic products are rated (by me) by the number of live bacteria per serving, or “colony forming units (cfu).”  This is usually in the billions because most die in transit, thus the importance of the delivery method.  Yogurt and apparently now chocolate seem to be good delivery vehicles, however, yogurt and most probiotic pills require refrigeration; these chocolate products do not.  And neither do Nature’s Way Probifia Pearls, although they are the only pill that doesn’t (I suspect alien technology).

gimme Probiotics Dark Chocolate Candies, Youngevity Triple Treat; the list goes on and on.  Apparently, I was late to the game… (expect to see these in your local grocer soon.)

Enough shameless promotion, what about the data?

Possemiers (2010) set out to test how well probiotics survived in a robot gut simulator when mixed in chocolate.  1 billion L. helveticus CNCM I-1722 and B. longum CNCM I-3470 were mixed with either chocolate or milk.  An astounding 85% of the probiotics survived when administered in chocolate compared to only 25% with milk.  FYI the study was funded by Barry Callebaut, a fancy Belgian chocolate maker who is currently developing their own line of probiotic chocolates … it’s not a conflict of interest, it’s what companies should be doing IMO (while an independent third party would be optimal, any data are better than none).  I have no idea how well their robot gut simulator emulates actual human digestion, but these results suggest that chocolate is [at least] potentially a good candidate to deliver probiotics.

An additional benefit of loading probiotics into chocolate is that cocoa itself can function as a prebiotic.  Tzounis (2011) gave real-life live humans cocoa every day for 4 weeks and showed that bifidobacteria increased dramatically.  These findings were confirmed by Fogliano (2011), who showed (via another robotic gut simulator) that water-insoluble cocoa fractions (e.g., cocoa fiber) alone markedly stimulated the growth of bifidobacteria.

So: 1) chocolate is a good vehicle to deliver exogenous bifidobacteria; and 2) cocoa promotes the growth of endogenous bifidobacteria.  win-win.

Why is this relevant?  because probiotics by themselves don’t survive the trip!  They die off somewhere between the factory and your large intestine.  In a study by Prilassnig (2007), 7 people were fed one of 6 different commercially available probiotics for a week.  2 of the products contained bifidobacteria, Omniflora and Infloran.  None of the bifido in Omniflora survived in any of the volunteers, and the bifido in Infloran was detectable in only 1 out of 4.  Feeling lucky?

Thus, chocolate may be not only viable, but an optimal way to administer probiotics.  The bifidobacteria can feed on the cocoa while in transit (from the factory to your cupboard to your bowels), and the cocoa can directly stimulate them along with your native gut flora.

And chocolate with GOS?!  according to Davis (2010), chocolates enriched with 10 grams of GOS increased endogenous bifidobacteria a whopping 3-fold.

Formula for the healthiest chocolate on Earth? >70% cocoa, a billion bifidobacteria, and a few grams of GOS… don’t get your hopes up, however, this won’t likely be made any time soon.  Despite all of the data showing the remarkable health-promoting properties of GOS, it’s still not widely commercially available.  In the meantime, Attune’s use of inulin will have to suffice.



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