Cardio cocktail may fight furry arteries

New research suggests the synergistic heart-protecting power of cocoa, fish oil and phytosterols may help fight atherosclerosis.

While a cocoa-mega cocktail with a phytosterol chaser may not go over big at the bar, it might fight heart disease, according to new research. Researchers at the U.K.’s Cardiff University found that when used together, fish oil, cocoa extract and phytosterols may offer new hope in the war against heart disease. In the study, the combo was associated with less atheroscleroisis, or "furring" of the arteries, in a cell model, according to a release about the research from Cardiff University.

Previous studies have suggested that individually, the three ingredients each have the potential to protect our hearts. For example, two studies published earlier this year suggest that cocoa flavanols help keep our arteries flexible and functioning well as we age. Research into cocoa, fish oil and phytosterols together, however, had never been conducting, according to the release.

"The study found, in cell-based models, that combining the three ingredients could, potentially, help halt the progression of atherosclerosis. The challenge now is to take our findings and examine whether they translate into humans,” the study’s coauthor Dipak Ramji, PhD, of Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, said in the release. "Ultimately, our common goal is to help prevent people from developing atherosclerosis, and this collaborative work opens up new avenues for further research on the use of nutritional products in the prevention and treatment of the condition."

The research was published in PLOS ONE.

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