I really really love chocolate, so when I found out I had high cholesterol I was worried that I’d have to cut it out of my diet. Imagine my delight then when I found out that eating chocolate can actually help to reduce cholesterol! There’s a catch though…well two actually. It has to be dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher), and it has to be eaten in moderation, because unfortunately it’s still pretty high in sugar and saturated fats.
When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can actually provide quite a few health benefits because it contains fibre, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. Research has also shown that eating small amounts of it not only reduces bad cholesterol (LDL), but also increases good cholesterol (HDL).
I now eat one or two squares of really good dark chocolate most days. I’ve tried all sorts of varieties and my favourite is ‘Lindt 70% Cocoa’. It’s not too bitter, and you still get the melt-in-your-mouth effect that a lot of dark chocolate bars lack.
If I want to up the cocoa content, I have ‘Green & Black’s Organic 85%’. It’s a lot less bitter than most of the other high cocoa bars because it contains Madagascan vanilla. At least one of the main supermarkets seems to have an offer on these two brands at any time, so I always stock up when I go shopping.
After researching other foods that help to lower cholesterol, I decided to create a chocolate cake that would incorporate some of these foods to help make reducing cholesterol as enjoyable as possible. It’s a bit of a cheat’s cake, because it doesn’t require any baking, just a bit of melting and stirring, and sticking in the fridge. So it takes no time at all to make, which is a massive bonus for me! Make sure you use chocolate that you like the taste of, like Lindt, rather than cooking chocolate or really dark bitter chocolate.
I love chocolate bars with biscuit in them, so I add oatcake pieces to give the cake a biscuity crunch. Oats are a great source of beta-glucans, a type of soluble fibre that can help to lower cholesterol. The ‘Rude Health’ oatcakes work best in this cake as they’re thicker and more substantial than the other brands I’ve tried.
I also add almonds and sunflower seeds, because they’re high in monounsaturated fats, so can help to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). Chia seeds and walnuts would work well too.
Ground flaxseeds are a brilliant addition if you have them because they contain plant omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fibre, both of which help to improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL).
I add a small handful of raisins too, which contain soluble and insoluble fibre, potassium and antioxidants – all of which are beneficial for heart health.
- Serves: Makes about 12 pieces
- Preparation time: 5 mins
- Cooking time: 15 mins
- Extra time: 3 hrs (cooling + fridge time)
- Difficulty: Easy
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)
- 5 oatcakes
- 2 handfuls of almonds/walnuts
- 5 tbsp sunflower/chia seeds
- 5 tbsp ground flaxseeds
- 1 handful of raisins
- Break the chocolate bars into small individual squares and break each oatcake into quarters.
- Pour some water (to about 2cm depth) into a medium sized saucepan and bring it to the boil.
- Put the chocolate pieces in a heat-resistant mixing bowl, then place the bowl on top of the saucepan. Stir every so often until the chocolate has melted.
- Turn the hob off, then add the other ingredients in turn to the melted chocolate, stirring them thoroughly into the mixture to make sure they’re completely covered.
- Pour the mixture into a suitably sized rectangular tin or roasting dish lined with baking paper.
- Once cooled, place in the fridge until it has solidified, then you can cut it into bitesize pieces and enjoy – in moderation of course!
For more cholesterol-friendly recipes and tips on how to reduce cholesterol naturally, click here.