Chocolate is rich in a particular variety of plant polyphenols which are powerful natural antioxidants. Though many plant foods contain polyphenols, chocolate seems to have particular potent health-promoting and disease fighting effects. These compounds include procyanidins, catechins and epicatechins.
An interesting observation is that among supercentenarians (those living over 110 years) a love of chocolate is often discovered. In fact the oldest living human in history, Jeanne Calment who died at age 122, consumed chocolate on a daily basis.
In the latest study researchers examined whether the food could prevent colon cancer in rats.
An experimental group of rats were fed a daily diet consisting of 12% cocoa. After a period of time, these rats and a non-cocoa control group were exposed to a carcinogen called azoxymethane. Within four weeks of the toxin exposure, rats began to develop intestinal cancers.
The researcher discovered that the rats on the cocoa diets had a statistically significant reduction in the number of precancerous lesions, called aberrant crypts.