The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 10 No. 1 • March 2007

Cocoa Reduces LDL Oxidative Susceptibility and Increases HDL-Cholesterol

Twenty-five normocholesterolemic and mildly hypercholesterolemic Japanese men with a mean age of 38 ± 1 years participated in a 12-week study of cocoa powder ingestion.1 The participants received either 12 g of sugar per day (controls) or 26 g of cocoa powder plus 12 g of sugar per day (experimental group). The results showed that, after 12 weeks, the cocoa-consuming group had a 9% prolongation from baseline levels in the time it takes for LDL to be oxidized (lag time). This was a significantly greater prolongation than the reduction (decreased prolongation) measured in the control group (–13%). HDL-cholesterol was significantly increased (24% increase) as compared to the controls (5% increase).

An earlier study cited by the authors reported that HDL-cholesterol increased by 11% and 14% after a 3-week intake of dark chocolate or dark chocolate enriched with cocoa polyphenols, respectively. The daily consumption of catechin monomers and proanthocyanidins was reported to be 270 mg from the dark chocolate and 420 mg from the dark chocolate with added cocoa polyphenols. As the authors note,1 “These results indicated that the increase in plasma HDL-cholesterol concentration caused by polyphenols was dose-related. Our study also showed that cocoa powder enhanced plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations and that there was a nonsignificant trend toward a positive correlation between the excretion of urinary catechin and plasma HDL-cholesterol. Intake of flavonoids other than catechins, such as isoflavones, flavanones (naringenin and hesperetin), and polyphenols in red wine, have also been shown to increase HDL concentrations in both human and animal studies.”

The results also showed that the cocoa powder ameliorated some of the deleterious effects of the sugar intake by reducing the excretion (a 24% reduction from baseline) of urinary dityrosine, which was significantly greater than in the control group (–1%), and there was also a trend of lower production of Maillard reaction products (chemical reactions between sugar and protein) as measured by Nε-(hexanoyl)lysine excretion.

So, while having fun eating your Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s® LifeByChocolate low-glycemic-index, low-digestible-carbohydrate, no-sugar, high-protein chocolate pudding, remember that you’ll be getting about 7 grams of cocoa per half-cup serving.


  1. Baba et al. Continuous intake of polyphenolic compounds containing [sic] cocoa powder reduces LDL oxidative susceptibility and has beneficial effects on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 85:709-17 (2007).

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