A number of previous studies have identified a role for cocoa to exert cardiovascular benefits, most notably via the food’s rich content of antioxidant polyphenols, consumption of which has been shown to boost HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and decrease LDL (“bad”)cholesterol levels. Japanese researchers examined the effects of cacao polyphenols such as (−)-epicatechin, (+)-catechin, and procyanidin B2 and C1 in human intestinal cells. The team discovered that the polyphenols increased apolipoprotein A1 (Apo-A1) levels, which the body utilizes to produce HDL cholesterol; while levels of alipoprotein B, the main alipoprotein responsible for carrying LDL cholesterol to cells, decreased. The researchers submit that the cocoa compounds increased the sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs), which are responsible for the regulation of genes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis and metabolism, “[elucidating] a novel mechanism by which HDL cholesterol levels become elevated with daily cocoa intake.”
Akiko Yasuda, Midori Natsume, Naomi Osakabe, Keiko Kawahata, Jinichiro Koga. “Cacao Polyphenols Influence the Regulation of Apolipoprotein in HepG2 and Caco2 Cells.” J. Agric. Food Chem., January 12, 2011; DOI: 10.1021/jf103820b.
American Heart Association warns that the cost to treat heart disease in the United States will triple by 2030, largely as a result of unhealthy behaviors.
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