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Inflammation testing shows cocoa improves heart health

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Lab testing for inflammatory markers associated with heart disease found that ingesting the cocoa found in chocolate can reduce inflammation and increase levels of the beneficial cholesterol, HDL.

The study, which was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, placed 42 men and women on either a diet of plain skim milk, or milk mixed with 40 grams of unsweetened cocoa powder HealthDay News reports. After one month, researchers determined that those who drank the cocoa-flavored milk had levels adhesion molecules which are linked to heart disease.

Adhesion molecules are proteins that cause white blood cells to stick to the walls of the arteries, according to Shelley McGuire, professor of food science and nutrition at Washington State University.

"One of the major strengths of the study was they were measuring adhesion molecules, which we have recently learned are very important in the formation of atherosclerosis," McGuire told the news source.

The study also found that participants in the cocoa powder group experienced an increase in HDL cholesterol, which is known to help reduce levels of the harmful LDL cholesterol and may have ant-inflammatory properties.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture polyphenols, which are linked to similar anti-inflammatory chemicals, are found in wine, apples, broccoli, onions, blueberries and red grapes.

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