Legumes have reported benefits in terms of reduced risk for coronary heart disease and of colonic health. A novel legume fiber, cocoa bran, also may have favorable health effects on serum lipid levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol oxidation, and fecal bulk.
Twenty-five healthy normolipidemic subjects (13 men and 12 women) (mean ± SEM age, 37 ± 2 years; mean ± SEM body mass index [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters], 24.6 ± 0.7) ate cocoa-bran and chocolate-flavored low-fiber breakfast cereals for 2-week periods, with 2-week washout, in a double-blind crossover study. The cocoa-bran cereal provided 25.0 g/d of total dietary fiber (TDF). The low-fiber cereal (5.6 g/d TDF) was of similar appearance and energy value. Fasting blood samples were obtained at the start and end of each period, and 4-day fecal collections were made from days 11 through 14.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level was higher (7.6% ± 2.9%; P = .02) and the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio was lower (6.7% ± 2.3%; P = .007) for cocoa-bran compared with low-fiber cereal at 2 weeks. No effect was seen on LDL cholesterol oxidation. Mean fecal output was significantly higher for cocoa-bran than for low-fiber cereal (56 ± 14 g/d; P<.001) and equal to the increase seen in the same subjects with wheat fiber in a previous study.
A chocolate-flavored cocoa-bran cereal increased fecal bulk similarly to wheat bran and was associated with a reduction in the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio. In view of the low-fat, high-fiber nature of the material, these results suggest a possible role for this novel fiber source in the diets of normal, hyperlipidemic, and constipated subjects.