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Dark chocolate bars may lower cholesterol

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A daily dark chocolate bar containing plant compounds could help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, new research has found.

The heart-healthy chocolate bars, which have been developed by Mars, contain natural plant extracts called sterols and are rich in cocoa flavanols, which occur naturally in the cocoa bean and have been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood vessels.

Researchers at Mars and the University of Illinois found that people who ate one of the chocolate bars every day as part of a balanced, low-fat diet benefited from a two per cent reduction in overall cholesterol, a 5.3 per cent drop in LDL ('bad' cholesterol) and a five per cent decrease in systolic blood pressure after eight weeks.

Dr Catherine Kwik-Uribe, a research scientist at Mars and one of the study's co-authors, commented: "Our study supports the possibility that chocolate products specially formulated to contain both plant sterols and cocoa flavanols can, in the context of a balanced diet, be a practical and enjoyable dietary strategy to help support healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy blood pressure."

The team's findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Nutrition.ADNFCR-858-ID-18525317-ADNFCR

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