Scientists from Penn State University found eating nearly one-third a cup of almonds a day—either alone or combined with almost one-quarter cup of dark chocolate and 2 1/3 tablespoons of cocoa a day—may reduce risk factors for coronary heart disease.
They found that combining raw almonds, dark chocolate and cocoa significantly reduces the number of low-density lipoproteins, or “bad cholesterol”, in the blood of overweight and obese people.
The research is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association and was conducted by Penny Kris-Etherton et al.
LDL is often called “bad cholesterol” because of the role it plays in clogging arteries.
As was the case in past studies, the key lies in how much you eat, said the study’s lead author, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of nutrition.
Past studies have shown health benefits from eating moderate amounts of almonds, dark chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa.
This study sought to see whether combining those three foods had a positive effect on the heart health of overweight and obese individuals.
The team studied 31 participants ages 30 to 70. For one month, participants didn’t eat any of the foods in the study.
In the next one-month period, participants ate 42.5 grams of almonds a day; in the third period, they ate 43 grams of dark chocolate combined with 18 grams of cocoa powder; in the fourth period, they ate all three foods.
The team showed almonds eaten alone lowered LDL cholesterol by 7 percent compared with the period when participants didn’t eat any of the study foods.
Combining almonds with dark chocolate and cocoa also reduced small, dense LDL particles that are a risk factor for heart disease.
Researchers say it’s important to note that participants ate almonds in place of dairy fat as part of a healthy diet.
Replacing saturated fat coming from dairy fat (butter and cheese) with unsaturated fat coming from nuts (almonds) could help improve blood cholesterol levels.
If you care about cholesterol, please read studies about fruit that can boost your gut health, and lower cholesterol levels, and this common cholesterol-lowering drug could help you live longer.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about nutrients that can protect your heart rate, and results showing this combo therapy can cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by half.
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