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巧克力为何对人有益处?

2014-06-16    来源:译言网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Why Chocolate Is Good for Us

In recent years, large-scale epidemiological studies have found that people whose diets include dark chocolate have a lower risk of heart disease than those whose diets do not. Other research has shown that chocolate includes flavonols, natural substances that can reduce the risk of disease. But it hasn’t been clear how these flavonols could be affecting the human body, especially the heart. New findings from Virginia Tech and Louisiana State University, however, suggest an odd explanation for chocolate’s goodness: It improves health largely by being indigestible.
近年来,大规模流行病学方面的研究发现饮食习惯中包含适量黑巧克力的人较不经常食用巧克力的人得心脏病的概率低。一些其他方面的研究也表明巧克力中的天然物质黄酮醇,可以减少疾病的发生。但是黄酮醇作用于人体,尤其是心脏的机理,目前尚不清楚。然而,弗吉尼亚理工学院和路易斯安娜州立大学的新发现却对食用巧克力的益处做出了新奇解释:巧克力改善人体健康是主要是由于它难于被消化。

Researchers at Louisiana State reached this conclusion after simulating the human digestive system in glass vessels. One represented the stomach and the small intestine, with their digestive enzymes, and a second reproduced a large-intestine-like environment, with gut microbes from human volunteers. The scientists then added cocoa powder to the stomach vessel.
路易斯安那州的研究者在玻璃容器中模拟人体消化系统得出这样的结论。他们在一只玻璃容器中加入胃和小肠的消化酶模拟胃和小肠,在另一只容器中加入来自志愿者体内的肠道细菌模拟出大肠生态环境。之后科学家们在“胃”中加入了可可粉。

The “stomach” and “small intestine” broke down and absorbed some of the cocoa. But while many of the flavonols previously identified in chocolate were digested in this way, there was still plenty of undigested cocoa matter. Gut bacteria in the simulated colon then broke that down further into metabolites, small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream and known to reduce cardiac inflammation. Finally, the last undigested cocoa matter, now mostly fiber, began to ferment, releasing substances that improve cholesterol levels. And there was another health-giving twist to this entire process: The gut microbes that digested the cocoa were desirable probiotics like lactobacillus. Their numbers appeared to increase after the introduction of the cocoa, while less- salutary microbes like staphylococcus declined in number.
“胃”和“小肠”分解并吸收了部分可可粉。当很多存在于巧克力中的黄酮醇以这种途径被消化的同时,可可粉中仍有相当数量的物质未被消化。接下来模拟结肠中的肠道细菌将这些物质进一步分解成更小的代谢分子,从而进入血液并起到减少心脏疾病的作用。至此可可粉中还未被消化的物质,大多为纤维类物质,开始发酵并释放出可以提高胆固醇含量的物质。与此同时,肠道内益生类细菌如乳酸菌在加入可可粉后数量的增加和对人体意义不大的微生物如葡萄球菌在数量上的减少也是有益健康的另一机制。


These findings are broadly consistent with those from Virginia Tech, published in March in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Researchers there began by feeding healthy lab mice a high-fat diet. Some of the mice were also given unsweetened cocoa extract; others were fed various types of flavonols extracted from the cocoa. After 12 weeks, most of the mice had grown fat and unwell, characterized by insulin resistance, high blood sugar and incipient diabetes. A few, however, had not gained weight. These animals had ingested one of the flavonol groups whose chemical structure seems to be too large to be absorbed by the small intestine.
弗吉尼亚理工学院在《农业与食品化学杂志》三月刊上得出的结论与这一发现十分一致。研究者首先为试验鼠提供高脂肪的膳食,同时为部分小鼠喂食未加糖的可可提取物,而为其余小鼠喂食从可可中提取的各种不同类型的黄酮醇。12周后,大部分小鼠变得肥胖且不健康,主要表现为抗胰岛素、高血糖和糖尿病初期等症状。然而,还是有很少的一些小鼠体重并未增涨。似乎是由于这些小鼠摄入的黄酮醇的化学结构太大以至于小肠不能将其吸收。

What the results suggest, says Andrew Neilson, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech and the senior author of the mouse study, is that “there is something going on with cocoa in the colon,” but what that means for chocolate lovers is not clear. Future experiments, he hopes, will tease out why one flavonol group impeded weight gain and the others did not. Do not hold your breath for a cocoa-based diet pill anytime soon, though. Cocoa’s biochemical impacts are “extremely complex,” he says.
试验结果表明结肠中的一些物质可以与可可发生作用,弗吉尼亚理工大学的助理教授、本次老鼠研究的资深作者安德鲁·尼尔森如是说。但是这个发现对喜爱巧克力的人来说意味着什么还不清楚。他希望以后的实验可以梳理出为什么某种类型的黄酮醇能够阻碍体重的增加而其他类型却不能。所以,不要急着去吃可可类减肥药,可可的生物化学影响极其复杂,尼尔森说。

Sadly, Dr. Neilson also points out that cocoa is not a chocolate bar, something whose added ingredients and processing reduce the number and type of flavonols, increase calories (cocoa itself has very few) and possibly change the response of gut bacteria to the cocoa. “The evidence does not show that you can eat a chocolate bar every day and expect to improve your health,” he says. A few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder sprinkled onto oatmeal or a handful of cocoa nibs — bits of the cacao bean, available at natural-food stores — would be better, he says less than sweetly.
可惜的是,尼尔森博士同时也指出可可不是巧克力棒,巧克力棒的添加材料和制作过程减少了可可中黄酮醇的数量和种类,增加了其中的卡路里(可可中的卡路里很少)并且很有可能改变了肠道细菌对可可的响应机理。“这项证据并未表明你可以每天食用一支巧克力棒并期望健康状况得到改善。”他说。往燕麦粥里撒几大汤匙未加糖的可可粉或者少量的可可粒——小块儿的可可豆,天然食品店有售——可能是更好的做法,他不那么讨人喜欢地说。 (译言网)


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