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NewsBites March 2018 Issue

Almonds and Chocolate Good for Cholesterol

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A study links eating almonds and chocolate to healthier levels of blood cholesterol.

Eating almonds or almonds and dark chocolate together, but not dark chocolate alone, improves blood cholesterol, says a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Thirty-one overweight or obese participants, ages 30 to 70, consumed four test diets for 4 weeks each, in random order. Each of the test diets included take-home meals consistent with an average American diet, with one serving as a control and the other three being enhanced with (a) almonds, (b) dark chocolate and cocoa powder, or (c) the combination of almonds and dark chocolate/cocoa powder. The nuts and chocolate/cocoa replaced butter, cheese and refined grains in the control diet.

Compared with the control diet, the overall cholesterol profile—such as total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, or the number of LDL particles—improved modestly on both the almond-enhanced diet and the almond plus dark chocolate/cocoa powder diet. There were also subtle differences in types of LDL that differ by size and density. For example, the almond-and-chocolate combo reduced levels of small, dense LDL particles, which have been associated with greater risk of plaques in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis). No significant differences in cholesterol levels were seen for dark chocolate/cocoa powder alone, compared Compared with the control diet, the overall cholesterol profile—such as total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, or the number of LDL particles—improved modestly on both the almond-enhanced diet and the almond plus dark chocolate/cocoa powder diet. There were also subtle differences in types of LDL that differ by size and density. For example, the almond-and-chocolate combo reduced levels of small, dense LDL particles, which have been associated with greater risk of plaques in the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis). No significant differences in cholesterol levels were seen for dark chocolate/cocoa powder alone, compared with control.

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