Reference Number: 413
Lycopene-rich food and dark chocolate are among the best-documented products with a broad health benefit. This study explored the systemic effect of lycopene and dark chocolate (DC) on gut microbiota, blood, liver metabolism, skeletal muscle tissue oxygenation and skin. Thirty volunteers were recruited for this trial – 15 women and 15 men – with a mean age of 55 ± 5.7 years and with moderate obesity (30 < BMI < 35 kg/m2). They were randomised and divided into five equal interventional groups: three received different formulations of lycopene, one of them with a 7mg daily dose and two with 30mg; another group was given 10g of DC with 7mg lycopene embedded into its matrix; and the last group received 10g DC. The trial was double-blinded for the three lycopene groups and separately for the 2 DC groups, and lasted for 1 month. By the end of the trial, there were dose-dependent changes in the gut microbiota profile in all three lycopene groups, with an increase of relative abundance of, for example, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Bifidobacterium longum. This was also accompanied by dose-dependent changes in the blood, liver metabolism, skeletal muscle and skin parameters. Consumption of DC resulted in increased relative abundance of, for example, Lactobacillus and a reduction of corneocyte exfoliation. This is the first study that reports the prebiotic potential of lycopene and DC.
What does this mean for a baker?
This is a very interesting study that provides an insight into how lycopene and dark chocolate are able to act as prebiotics to help support the function and growth of our positive gut microbes Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Bifidobacterium longum. Why not try adding some lycopene-rich foods, such as tomatoes, or some dark chocolate to your sourdough bakes? Our Margherita sourdough pizza is one of the simplest sourdough bakes you can try that includes tomatoes.