Why cholesterol is bad for you
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Cholesterol is a naturally occurring blood fat that is produced in the liver. Having too much of it can be dangerous as it clogs the blood vessels. If left untreated this can lead to issues such as heart disease and strokes.
It is widely known that diet plays a major role in cholesterol levels.
More specifically, eating too much fatty food is one cause of high cholesterol.
In the same way that certain foods can raise cholesterol levels, though, others could lower them.
One expert spoke with Express.co.uk about one tasty food that could do just this.
Doctor Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, recommended eating dark chocolate to lower cholesterol.
She explained: “Dark chocolate contains a high concentration of cocoa solids, which have powerful antioxidant properties.
“Cocoa contains large quantities of flavonoids, plant substances that have health benefits for humans.
“Flavonoids have been shown to inhibit cholesterol secretion in animals and humans.”
What does the research say?
Her claim was backed by a paper, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“In a 2011 meta-analysis, that included 10 clinical studies, those who regularly ate dark chocolate, had a significant reduction in levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein -‘bad’ cholesterol – but no effect was found on levels of high-density lipoprotein – ‘good’ cholesterol,” Dr Lee said.
High-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) works to reduce cholesterol levels by absorbing it and carrying it back to the liver.
The liver then removes it from the body.
In contrast, low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol) is what can build up on the walls of your blood vessels and over time this causes the insides of the vessels to narrow.
Dr Lee added: “Dark chocolate also has beneficial effects on blood pressure and endothelial (cell wall) function and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Cardiologists believe that regular, moderate, consumption of chocolate can be good for the heart, but as always, if you overdo it and eat too much chocolate, these benefits are likely to be lost.
“Generally, dark chocolate is recommended as it has a higher flavonoid content, but more research is needed to be sure which type and how much gives the best results.”
Eat in moderation
However, she warned: “Take note that dark chocolate contains 50 percent to 90 percent cocoa solids.
“However, it is high in sugar and calories and contributes to obesity.
“The optimal amount for health benefits is one to two ounces per day, and this sadly, is only one to two squares.”
To lower cholesterol, the NHS also recommends eating:
- Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon
- Brown rice, wholegrain bread and wholewheat pasta
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and vegetables.
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