High cholesterol: Two cups of a popular beverage could lower ‘bad’ levels – study

Why cholesterol is bad for you

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Having high cholesterol levels means you have too much of a fatty substance – cholesterol – in your blood. This can become dangerous if it blocks your blood vessels, potentially leading to heart problems or a stroke. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Sas Parsad – founder of The Gut Co – shared some tips on how to reduce cholesterol levels.

He said: “A 2015 study showed that drinking a cocoa flavanol drink of 450mg twice a day for a month lowered low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad) and increased high low-density (HDL) lipoprotein cholesterol levels (good).

“There is both good and bad cholesterol in everyone and lowering LDL cholesterol is the way to maintain health.

“This study found that the monounsaturated fatty acids contained in cocoa helped improve cholesterol levels in participants.”

The research in question was conducted by academics in the UK, Germany and the US, between 2013 and 2014.

They held a trial involving 105 participants who were given cocoa flavanol drinks twice a day for a month.

As a result it showed a decrease in “bad” cholesterol by 0·17 millimoles per litre, “whereas HDL-cholesterol increased by 0·10 mmol/l”.

The study concluded: “The outcomes of the flaviola health study, a cocoa flavanol-based dietary intervention trial in healthy middle-aged men and women, demonstrate improvements in accredited surrogates of cardiovascular risk, including indices of vascular function and metabolism.

“Our findings support the notion that cocoa flavanol intake has the potential to support the maintenance of cardiovascular health.

“Furthermore, our data add to the accumulating body of evidence regarding the health benefits of dietary flavanols and procyanidins in general, thus contributing to evidence-based assessments of potential future dietary guidelines for these bioactives.”

Cocoa flavanols are bioactive compounds found naturally in raw cocoa beans and since a lot of them are lost in the process of harvesting the beans, you need to look for chocolate with the highest cocoa count.

Dark chocolate has the most flavanols, or look for hot chocolate or chocolate bars with 75 percent dark cocoa.

Cocoa flavanols can also be bought in a powder form.

Parsad added that some other foods that could help with lowering cholesterol.

“Soluble fibre is able to bind cholesterol in the digestive system and remove it from the body before it goes into circulation,” he said.

“This can help lower cholesterol levels by not allowing it to be absorbed by the body.

“Current guidelines recommend that adults get 20-35 grams of fibre daily, which most of us don’t achieve.

“An excellent way to get soluble fibre into your diet first thing in the morning is to have an oat-based cereal with added fruit – both of these are relatively high in fibre, so they give you a great head start on the day.

“Replacing meat with fish a few times a week is a great way to lower cholesterol for two reasons.

“Firstly, high meat consumption can be a leading cause of high cholesterol.

“Secondly, fish often contains high omega-3 fats, which are able to lower LDL cholesterol and protect the heart by reducing triglycerides in the bloodstream and preventing an abnormal heart rhythm from occurring.”

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