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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Health Benefits of Cocoa

Evidence keeps coming on the benefits of chocolate. A Spanish study of 47 subjects aged 55 and older showed that those who drank skim milk with cocoa powder had less inflammation of their blood vessels and an increased HDL level. Inflammation of the vessels is implicated in arterial disease, so reduced inflammation is a positive change. HDL ("good cholesterol") removes cholesterol from the blood vessel walls - so the more, the better. The lower the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, the lower the risk of heart disease. A ratio of lower than 3.0 is ideal. This study reinforces previous evidence that moderate chocolate consumption helps keep arterial walls healthy. But be careful about which chocolate or cocoa you buy. Dark chocolate is best, and you should look for brands that list chocolate liquor or cocoa mass as the first ingredient. If you buy a brand that lists the percent cocoa mass, look for at least 50%. It's also wise to avoid brands that add milk fat, which unnecessarily raises the saturated fat and cholesterol content of the bar.

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