We evaluated the effect of cacao procyanidins (CP) on plasma lipid levels in high cholesterol-fed rats. Animals were divided into 4 groups, and each group was fed on either a normal diet, high cholesterol diet (HCD) containing 1% cholesterol (HCD without CP), HCD with 0.5% (HCD with 0.5% CP) or 1.0% CP (HCD with 1.0% CP) for 4 weeks. Plasma cholesterol level was significantly higher in the HCD without CP group than the normal diet group (p<0.01). Supplementation of CP significantly decreased plasma cholesterol (p<0.01) to levels similar to those of the normal diet group. The liver cholesterol and triglyceride levels in all HCD groups were significantly higher (p<0.01), but 1.0% CP feeding significantly reduced this increase. Fecal excretion of neutral sterol and triglyceride was significantly increased in all HCD groups (p<0.01), and the excreted amounts tended to be higher in the HCD with CP groups. The procyanidins dose-dependently reduced micellar solubility of cholesterol and this activity increased with increasing molecular weight. These results suggest that one of the mechanisms of CP to lower plasma cholesterol is inhibition of intestinal absorption of cholesterol.
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