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March 25, 2008
A recent study from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign has demonstrated that eating a daily dose of sterol-fortified dark chocolate can help people with elevated cholesterol levels improve their cardiovascular health. The results of this research were published in the April issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
The researchers note that previous studies have shown that plant sterols and cocoa flavanols can help people maintain cardiovascular health. They sought to take this one step further by determining if the sterols and/or flavanols can help improve the cardiovascular health of individuals with elevated cholesterol levels.
Recruited study participants, all with elevated cholesterol levels, began by following an AHA style diet for two weeks. They were then divided into two groups: one that would daily consume two dark-chocolate bars fortified with 1.1 grams sterol esters per bar, or two bars not fortified with sterols.
Analysis of serum lipids and other cardiovascular markers showed that regular consumption of the sterol-containing chocolate bar resulted in reductions of both serum total (2.0%) and low-density lipoprotein (5.3%) cholesterol. Consumption of cocoa flavanols reduced systolic blood pressure. This led the researchers to conclude that regular consumption of chocolate bars containing plant sterols and cocoa flavanols as part of a low-fat diet may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.
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