Eating a couple of chocolate bars daily may be the best way to reduce cholesterol levels, a study has said.
The news comes from researchers at the University of Illinois who found that eating two CocoaVia dark chocolate bars a day also had the added good effect of lowering systolic blood pressure.
Lead researcher John Erdman, a U. of I. professor of food science and human nutrition, and colleagues state the plant sterols and flavanols added to the bars is what helps them in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure respectively.
As a part of the study, researchers recruited 49 people with slightly elevated cholesterol and normal blood pressure.
These people then began the American Heart Association's "Eating Plan for Healthy Americans" two weeks before the study started. After this, the volunteers were divided into two groups.
Both groups were given CocoaVia bars. However, while one group was given bars with plant sterols, the other was not.
The participants ate one CocoaVia formulation twice daily for four weeks, then switched to the other bar for an additional four weeks.
Blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, and other cardiovascular measures were tracked throughout the eight-week study.
Co-author of the study Ellen Evans revealed that a marked difference was seen in the participants who ate the bars with plant sterols.
"After starting the CocoaVia bars, we saw a marked differential effect on blood cholesterol, with the sterol-containing products doing better than those without sterols," she said.
Erdman insisted that there was no interference by Mars Inc., the company that not only manufactures the chocolate bars, but which also funded part of the study.