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You Can Have Your Chocolate and Eat It Too!

Posted Aug 25 2011 3:01am
After yesterday's post , it appears that all we need to do to lower our cholesterol without taking medications is to eat change to a vegan diet.  But does that mean we can't have any fun?  Luckily, it turns out that cocoa consumption can help lower cholesterol in a meta-analysis published early this month in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition .

The authors analyzed 320 participants in 10 trials ranging from 2 to 12 weeks in duration.  Clearly, the results are only as good as the data and ideally, we'd like to study large numbers of individuals for longer periods of time.  Nevertheless, consumption of dark chocolate products led to a 5.9mg/dL drop in LDL (bad) cholesterol and a 6.23mg/dL drop in total cholesterol.  Not too shabby but not quite as impressive as eating a combination of plant sterols, soy protein, viscous fiber & nuts.

But we need to be clear that chocolate (at least here in the States) is not the same thing as cocoa.  Nor is hot cocoa necessarily good cocoa.  To obtain the benefits of cocoa that have been reported in multiple studies , you need to consume high cocoa content chocolate.  So if the first several ingredients listed are some sort of sugar, that particular product isn't something for you to eat regularly for your health.  Instead, you need to look for high cocoa content chocolate, otherwise known as dark chocolate.  The higher the cocoa content the better, but it should be at least 50-60% cocoa.  Just be warned that when switching from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, it requires an adjustment in taste & palate.  The really high cocoa content (70-80%) stuff can be pretty bitter if you're not used to it.

By the way, as an added benefit, the really good stuff also is a reasonable source of dietary fiber, another component of a healthy diet.  So it appears that you can have your chocolate and eat it, too!  Mangia!
PS Neither I nor my family have any financial connection to or benefit from Godiva (or it's corporate owner) or Trader Joe's (I just happen to live close to the latter and like their products and philosphy).


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