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New study suggests that specially-formulated
Date:3/26/2008

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (March 20, 2008) V Daily consumption of chocolate bars made with a patented combination of plant sterols and cocoa flavanols may affect cardiovascular risk by lowering elevated cholesterol levels and improving blood pressure, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

A study conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Illinois and Mars, Incorporated found that, as part of a balanced, low-fat diet, the daily consumption of CocoaVia® dark chocolate bars with added plant sterols (natural plant extracts) significantly lowered total cholesterol by 2 percent and LDL cholesterol (or "bad" cholesterol) by 5.3 percent in individuals with elevated cholesterol. In contrast, when the same study participants consumed dark chocolate bars without added plant sterols, neither total nor LDL cholesterol level was significantly affected, supporting that the consumption of plant sterols was responsible for the cholesterol reductions. Interestingly, the regular consumption of these flavanol-rich chocolate bars was also shown to result in a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure, reducing systolic blood pressure by 5 percent after 8 weeks. Of importance is that these improvements in cholesterol and blood pressure were observed without any adverse affects on HDL ('good' cholesterol), triglycerides, or body weight.

The study authors suggest that specially formulated foods, like the chocolate bars used in this research, could have potential to help support cardiovascular health as part of a healthy diet. This is important, since, according to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all Americans are living with high cholesterol levels and one third are afflicted with high blood pressure, putting them at risk for serious cardiovascular disease.

"We know that Americans are increasingly looking for foods to help them maintain their health," said study co-author Catherine Kwik-Uribe, PhD, r
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Contact: Lori Fromm
lfromm@webershandwick.com
312-988-2436
Weber Shandwick Worldwide
Source:Eurekalert

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