HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., Nov 06, 2006 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Americans looking to manage their blood cholesterol levels may have a new weapon in helping to promote heart health, suggests a new study published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Researchers at the University of California-Davis found that including CocoaVia(R) snack bars as part of a heart healthy diet helped to significantly lower both total and LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels, without impacting HDL or "good" cholesterol.
The researchers studied 67 men and women with elevated cholesterol (> 200 mg/dl total cholesterol) who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was instructed to consume the CocoaVia(R) snack bar twice daily, while another group was instructed to consume a placebo product (matched in its design but formulated without plant sterols) for 6 weeks. At the end of 6 weeks, total cholesterol levels had decreased, on average, by 4.7 percent, and LDL levels, on average, had decreased by 6 percent in the group who regularly consumed the CocoaVia(R) snack bar formulated with plant sterols. Those who consumed the placebo did not experience any significant reduction in either total or LDL cholesterol levels.
CocoaVia(R) bars are enriched with cholesterol-lowering plant sterols and contain high levels of naturally occurring cocoa flavanols, which research suggests may help to promote a healthy circulation. Each CocoaVia(R) snack bar contains 1.5 grams of plant sterol esters, a minimum of 100 milligrams of cocoa flavanols and 80 calories per serving. No other snack bar has been specially formulated to provide this unique combination of plant sterols and cocoa flavanols.
"We're quite excited about the outcome of this study," said co-author Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe, research scientist for Mars, Incorporated, creators of the CocoaVia(R) line of snack bars. "Heart health is a national public health priority, and our study supports that offering consumers a great tasting, lower calorie chocolate snack product with plant sterols, like CocoaVia(R) bars, can be a practical and enjoyable dietary strategy to help many Americans manage cholesterol levels as part of a balanced diet."
Other study findings include that the consumption of these plant sterol- enriched products did not negatively impact triglycerides. Additionally, no study participants gained weight in this study -- all participants were instructed to substitute the snack bars for another food in their diet. Each CocoaVia(R) snack bar used in the study contained 80 calories per serving -- typically lower than other snack items.
CocoaVia(R) is a product of Mars, Incorporated, the leader in research on the nutritional and medical potential of cocoa flavanols. Mars works in collaboration with top research institutions throughout the world and has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles.
Additionally, Mars has acquired more than 80 patents, including a patent for the Cocoapro(R) process used for CocoaVia(R) and Dove(R) products. The Cocoapro(R) process helps to retain a high level of cocoa flavanols that naturally occur in cocoa beans. CocoaVia(R) can be found in your local grocery, drug or discount store, and the new beverage and milk chocolate varieties of CocoaVia(R) are quickly joining the shelves.
For more information on CocoaVia(R) and cocoa flavanols, visit http://www.cocoavia.com .
Source: Polagruto JA, Wang-Polagruto JF, Braunn MM, Lee L, Kwik-Uribe C, Keen CL. Cocoa flavanol-enriched snack bars containing phytosterols effectively lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2006; 106:1804-1813.
Mars, Incorporated is one of the world's top producers of chocolate, and has a strong commitment to health research. With well over 15 years of research into the health benefits of cocoa flavanols, and decades of research invested into improving the cocoa plant and farming techniques, Mars, Incorporated has become the global leader in cocoa science. Mars uses patented and proprietary methods of processing cocoa beans to retain much of the naturally occurring flavanols, marking these products with the Cocoapro(R) seal, a hand holding a cocoa bean to signify the careful handling.