Cocoa may help reduce cholesterol levels

Eating cocoa could help reduce LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, according to a Japanese intervention study.

The 4-week study was a collaboration between Meiji Seika Kaisha Ltd and scientists from Ochanomizu University. 160 adults with either normal or raised cholesterol levels were randomly assigned to receive either a daily placebo compound or a high-polyphenol cocoa powder. Three different levels of cocoa powder were tested; 13g, 19.5g or 26g per day.

In all the cocoa groups, blood levels of LDL cholesterol decreased significantly compared with levels seen at the beginning of the study. Subjects with clinically raised cholesterol levels seem to benefit specifically from the cocoa supplementation, in that LDL cholesterol levels fell, while levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol rose. In addition, there was less oxidation of the LDL cholesterol, a process that is believed to drive the early stages of heart disease. It is known from other studies that cocoa is rich in polyphenol antioxidants that are believed to help protect cells from oxidation and may improve blood pressure control.

For more information, see
Baba S et al (2007) Plasma LDL and HDL Cholesterol and Oxidized LDL Concentrations Are Altered in Normo- and Hypercholesterolemic Humans after Intake of Different Levels of Cocoa Powder. Journal of Nutrition, Vol 137, pg 1436-1441.

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