Thursday, April 24, 2008


The April issue of the Journal of Nutrition, carries a study by the makers of Mars chocolate, stating that dark chocolates reduces total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and also blood pressure. I suppose the first observation that we will make is that " Kuna" Indians in the Panama region, consume a rather high salt diet, and yet have a rather low incidence of hypertension and heart disease. The " Kuna " Indians also consume a large amount of cocoa rich in flavanols. Dr Erdman of the U of Illinois studied the effects of dark chocolates on 49 healthy individuals. He had all of them run in on 2 weeks of healthy AHA cardiac diet. As expected, they did not gain weight and their total cholesterol all reduced by about 7%. He then divided them into two groups, one taking dark chocolates containing plant sterols and the other group, dark chocolates ( nutient balanced ) but not containing plant sterols. After two weeks, their diets were inter-change with the other group ( each group acting as their own control ). He found that while on the dark chocolates containing plant sterols, the total cholesterol reduced by 2%, the LDL-C by 5.3% and their BP came down by 5.8mmHg, and all this with no significant increase in weight. Well that is good news for all those who likes chocolates.

A few points are worth noting. 1. These benefits are with dark chocolates, which, besides containing the cardiac friendly flavanols, also contain plant sterols which may be lower cholesterols. 2. There seem to be some BP reduction with dark chocolates containing plant sterols too. 3. That each 100 gm chocolate bars ( this is the Mars chocolate bar ) contains about 100 cals and 6gm fats. 4. The most important point to note, I think, is the fact that this study is sponsored by Mars chocolate, and Dr Erdman is one of their consultants. If we understand all these, then looks like taking dark chocolates may be cardioprotective.

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