Last year, we published Nutrient Signaling: Evolutionary Origins of the Immune-Modulating Effects of Dietary Fat, which hypothesized that nutrients with beneficial effects on the microbiome will evolve anti-inflammatory signaling functions.
Lucky for chocolate lovers, cocoa follows this prediction. Polyphenols, especially catechin, in chocolate generate anti-inflammatory signaling, and have beneficial effects on gut microbiota.
A careful reader might object that humans have been consuming chocolate for only a short amount of time, perhaps too little to cause selection on immune function. In fact, the catechins in chocolate are found in a wide variety of other foods. Their evolved signaling function could result from ancient human exposure to catechin containing foods other than chocolate.