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Chocolate bar shown to lower cholesterol
Date:4/21/2008

The results of a University of Illinois study have demonstrated an effective way to lower cholesterol levels by eating chocolate bars.

Eating two CocoaVia dark chocolate bars a day not only lowered cholesterol, it had the unexpected effect of also lowering systolic blood pressure, said John Erdman, a U. of I. professor of food science and human nutrition.

The study, funded in part by Mars Inc., the company that makes the bars, was published in this months Journal of Nutrition.

Erdman attributes the drop in cholesterol numbers (total cholesterol by 2 percent and LDL or bad cholesterol by 5.3 percent) to the plant sterols that have been added to the bar and the drop in blood pressure to the flavanols found in dark chocolate.

Erdman says that some people will assume the study is flawed because of Mars funding role.

I know that it was a double-blinded trial that wasnt skewed toward a particular result, said Erdman, who chairs the Mars Scientific Advisory Council. Moreover, the paper was peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Nutrition, which ranks in the top 10 percent of all the biological science journals. Mars has spent millions of dollars studying the biological impact of the flavanols found in cocoa beans and learning how to retain their benefits during the refining process, Erdman said.

Forty-nine persons with slightly elevated cholesterol and normal blood pressure were recruited for the study. Those chosen for the double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study began the American Heart Associations Eating Plan for Healthy Americans (formerly the Step 1 diet) two weeks before the study started; then they were divided into two matched groups. Two types of CocoaVia bars were then introduced, one with plant sterols and one without.

While remaining on the AHA diet, participants ate one CocoaVia formulation twice daily for four weeks, then switched to the other bar for an additional four wee
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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@uiuc.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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