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Worried About Cholesterol? Grab Some Cocoa Powder

University of Barcelona researchers have released a study showing that cocoa powder may lower levels of LDL (commonly known as “bad”) cholesterol and raises levels of HDL (or “good”) cholesterol.

LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because it clogs arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. HDL, on the other hand, is known as “good” cholesterol because it clears the “bad” cholesterol out of arteries.

The findings were published online ahead of print in the May 2011 issue of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.

The participants of this study included 42 men and women with a mean age of 70. The group was split into two, with half receiving 17 ounces of skim milk and 1.5 ounces of cocoa powder each day and half receiving only the 17 ounces of skim milk.

After four weeks, the group consuming the cocoa powder showed a 5% increase in “good” cholesterol and a 14% decrease in “bad” cholesterol, when compared to the placebo group.

Researchers believe that the polyphenols in cocoa could be binding to the LDL cholesterol and making it impossible for them to oxidize. The reason for the increase in HDL was less clear, but it was theorized that the polyphenols were helping with the production of apolipoprotein (Apo) A1, which is a major part of HDL.

Chocolate has been linked to numerous health benefits in recent studies, including improving skin health and brain health. However, it is important to remember that consuming large amounts of chocolate can negate the beneficial effects.

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