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Almonds and chocolate could reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol in weeks – study

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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As high cholesterol can hike your risk of severe health problems, ranging from heart disease to stroke, keeping your levels in check is crucial. While eating chocolate to lower the fatty substance might sound too good to be true, a study suggests it might just work.

Characterised by its rich flavour, dark chocolate offers great taste as well as promising health effects.

Pairing this treat with some almonds could even help decrease your cholesterol levels in four weeks.

A study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, makes a strong case for enjoying this snack.

The crunchy nuts combined with the rich chocolate type were able to significantly lower LDL cholesterol also known as “bad”.

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While cholesterol is not all harmful, the type dubbed as bad can clog your arteries and hike your risk of cardiovascular problems.

Looking at 48 overweight and obese individuals between the ages of 30 and 70 years, the researchers set out to investigate the effects of dark chocolate, cocoa and almonds on markers of coronary heart disease risk.

For the first month of the trial, the participants didn’t eat any of the foods in the study.

In the next four-week period, they enjoyed only 42.5 grams of almonds daily.

The fourth period saw the study subjects eating 43 grams of dark chocolate combined with 18 grams of cocoa powder, while the fourth period included all three snacks.

The results showed that almonds on their own lowered bad cholesterol by seven percent.

And pairing the crunchy food with dark chocolate also helped to reduce the culprit.

Furthermore, the researchers concluded that incorporating the chocolate snack into a typical American diet without exceeding energy needs “may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease”.

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Study’s lead author Penny Kris-Etherton said: “It’s important to put this into context.

“The message is not that people should go out and eat a lot of chocolate and almonds to lower their LDL.

“People are allowed to have about 270 discretionary calories a day, and when foods like almonds, dark chocolate and cocoa are consumed together as a discretionary food, they confer health benefits unlike other discretionary foods such as frosted doughnuts.”

If you’re tempted to ditch the almonds and only reach for chocolate, Kris-Etherton warned against this choice.

The research showed that eating dark chocolate and cocoa alone didn’t appear to have a major effect on heart health.

“Chocolate doesn’t increase cholesterol levels, but it doesn’t decrease cholesterol levels either,” she added.

So, pairing the sweet treat with almonds is crucial if you want to bust your levels.

However, cocoa beans seem to be potent as Heart UK explains they contain plant chemicals called flavanols which are types of antioxidants.

Research looking into these goodies, particularly the one called epicatechin, has tied flavanols to heart health benefits such as making your blood vessels more elastic and lowering your blood pressure.

But the best way to get enough of flavanols isn’t through cocoa, sadly, as plant foods such as berries and nuts only contain enough.

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