... " Midori Natsume, Ph.D., and colleagues note that studies have shown that cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease by boosting levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, and decreasing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol. Credit for those heart-healthy effects goes to a cadre of antioxidant compounds in cocoa called polyphenols, which are particularly abundant in dark chocolate. Until now, however, nobody knew exactly how the polyphenols in cocoa orchestrated those beneficial effects.
The scientists analyzed the effects of cocoa polyphenols on cholesterol using cultures of human liver and intestinal cells. They focused on the production of apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1), a protein that is the major component of "good" cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B (ApoB), the main component of "bad" cholesterol. It turns out that cocoa polyphenols increased ApoA1 levels and decreased ApoB levels in both the liver and intestine. Further, the scientists discovered that the polyphenols seem to work by enhancing the activity of so-called sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs). SREBPs attach to the genetic material DNA and activate genes that boost ApoA1 levels, increasing "good" cholesterol. The scientists also found that polyphenols appear to increase the activity of LDL receptors, proteins that help lower "bad" cholesterol levels." ...
Here is a Valentine's Day sampler of other recent research on the health benefits chocolate published in ACS journals:
Why do some people with certain levels of LDL ("bad") and HDL ("good") cholesterol develop heart disease, while others with the same levels do not? A key factor may be the size and density of the cholesterol particles. There are two basic kinds of cholesterol in blood: LDL, which promotes heart disease, and HDL, which helps remove cholesterol from the system. But matters are more complicated. LDL cholesterol particles range from very small, densely concentrated particles to large "fluffy" ones. Studies have linked smaller, dense LDL cholesterol particles to a higher risk of heart disease compared to larger particles. Find out why small LDL are dangerous and what to do to improve them.