Hot cocoa could lower bad cholesterol in ‘weeks’ – study
High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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High cholesterol can hike your risk of severe health problems, ranging from heart disease to stroke, so it’s crucial to keep your levels in check. While chocolate treats like biscuits are usually a hard no when it comes to busting your levels, one sweet drink could surprisingly help lower your cholesterol, according to research.
With the temperatures slowly creeping down, what’s better than a warming drink.
Calming yet rich, hot cocoa doesn’t only offer a pleasant taste but also cholesterol-busting powers.
At least that’s the suggestion of research, published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.
Epidemiological studies suggest that regularly enjoying cocoa-containing products may offer some cardiovascular protection.
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Based on this information, the research team set out to investigate the effects of cocoa on lipids.
Looking at 42 participants with a high-risk of cardiovascular diseases, the research included both men and women.
These participants received hot cocoa, prepared using 40 grams of cocoa powder and 500 millilitres of skimmed milk, or just pure milk.
The subjects had to enjoy their given drink daily for a period of four weeks.
Before and after the intervention period, the research team measured their cholesterol as well as antioxidant vitamin concentrations.
The study found that those who drank the sweet drink had lower levels of “bad” oxidised cholesterol.
This type of cholesterol is the culprit that raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Furthermore, hot cocoa also seemed to have boosted the levels of “good” cholesterol, which also helps to control the bad type.
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While there were no effects on vitamins B1, B6, B12, C and E, the impacts on cholesterol were “significant”, the researchers noted.
The team concluded that enjoying hot cocoa “modulates” the lipid profile in high-risk subjects for cardiovascular diseases.
The reason why cocoa is so potent comes down to cocoa beans being rich in plant chemicals called flavanols.
Heart UK explains: “These are types of plant-based antioxidants called polyphenols.
“Like all antioxidants, flavanols stop unstable molecules known as free radicals from damaging our cells.
“A lack of antioxidants in the diet can put you at a higher risk of heart disease, cancers, type 2 diabetes and other long-term diseases, so it’s important to eat foods which contain antioxidants.”
Furthermore, flavanols, particularly the one called epicatechin, have been associated with heart health benefits, including lower blood pressure.
Apart from the hot drink, another source of flavanols is dark chocolate, although it doesn’t contain as much as cocoa, the charity adds.
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