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

esearch scientist for Mars, Incorporated, creators of the CocoaVia® line of heart-healthy snacks. "Our study supports the possibility that chocolate products specially formulated to contain both plant sterols and cocoa flavanols can, in the context of a balanced diet, be a practical and enjoyable dietary strategy to help support healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy blood pressure"

In this double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over study, researchers studied 49 men and women with elevated cholesterol. Following the adoption of an American Heart Association Step I diet, the study participants ate the flavanol-rich dark chocolate bars formulated with or without added plant sterols daily for four weeks. After this time, the products that study participants were consuming were switched and the study protocol followed for an additional four weeks. All the chocolate bars contained approximately 180 mg of cocoa flavanols and were matched in calories, nutrients, and the amount of theobromine and caffeine, natural compounds in cocoa that can affect blood pressure. The only difference in the products was the addition of plant sterols. The plant sterol containing chocolate bars (CocoaVia®) contained 1.1 grams of plant sterols. Researchers recorded blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, and other cardiovascular measures throughout the eight-week study.

Plant sterols, natural compounds found in certain vegetable oils, cereals, fruits and vegetables, have previously been shown to be safe and effective in lowering cholesterol levels, and this study adds to that body of research. A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association produced similar results with the daily consumption of CocoaVia® snack bars for six weeks. Sixty-seven men and women with elevated cholesterol consumed either the CocoaVia® snack bar or a snack bar without plant sterols. Those consuming the bar with added plant sterols had signif
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