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Cocoa Rich in Health Benefits

Cocoa, used throughout history as a folk medicine, may actually have significant health benefits, according to a new study by Harvard researchers.

Their analysis of 21 studies with 2,575 participants shows that cocoa consumption is associated with decreased blood pressure, improved blood vessel health, and improvement in cholesterol levels, among other benefits.

Eric L. Ding, PhD, of Harvard Medical School says the apparent health benefits come from polyphenolic flavonoids in cocoa that have the potential to prevent heart disease. Flavonoids are antioxidants that are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, tea, wine, and coffee.

Cocoa Flavonoids Good for Cholesterol

In addition to decreasing blood pressure and improving blood vessel health, consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol among people under age 50, and increased good HDL cholesterol, the analysis showed.

Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption also was linked to reductions in risk factors for diabetes — a major risk factor itself for cardiovascular disease.

Also, resistance to the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar, favorably dropped among people who consumed flavonoid-rich cocoa, compared to people in comparison groups.

Further, consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa did not change triglyceride levels of study participants or make them obeseTriglycerides are a type of blood fat that have been linked to coronary artery disease when levels are elevated above normal.

Click to link to the original Web MD article.

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