Dark Chocolate Improves Vascular Function, Decreases Inflammatory Markers

Dark Chocolate Improves Vascular Function, Decreases Inflammatory Markers

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Title: Dark chocolate consumption improves leukocyte adhesion factors and vascular function in overweight men

Author: D Esser et al.

Journal: FASEB Journal

Objective: to investigate whether dark chocolate consumption also affects other markers of endothelial health, and whether chocolate enrichment with flavanols has additional health benefits

Background

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Dark chocolate, and by association, cocoa and other content of the chocolate have been investigated for potential health benefits for decades. Some of the known benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of heart attack
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Decreasing LDL oxidation
  • Anti-inflammation action
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Improve arterial blood flow
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Antioxidants
  • Lower risk of blood clots
  • Improve mood
  • Improved cognition in elderly
  • Contains calcium, magnesium, potassium

The authors of this study wanted to know the impact of dark chocolate consumption on various markers of endothelial health.

Methods

Randomized double blind crossover study,

Investigated  effects of acute and of 4 wk daily consumption of high flavanol chocolate (HFC) and normal flavanol chocolate (NFC) on flow mediated dilation (FMD), augmentation index (which measures arterial stiffness) (AIX), leukocyte count (or white blood cells, the infection fighting cells of the body), plasma cytokines, and leukocyte cell surface molecules

Sensory profiles and motivation scores to eat chocolate were also collected

Results

Findings showed that a 4 wk chocolate intake

  • increased flow mediated dilation by 1%,
  • decreased AIX of 1%,
  • decreased leukocyte cell count,
  • decreased plasma sICAM1 and sICAM3, and
  • decreased leukocyte adhesion marker expression (P<0.05 for time effect),

There was no difference between high flavanol chocolate (HFC) and normal flavanol chocolate (NFC) consumption.

Flavanol enrichment did affect taste and negatively affected motivation to consume chocolate.

Conclusions

This study added that dark chocolate consumption (a) improves vascular function and (b) decreases markers of inflammation in overweight men.

The flavanol content of the chocolate did not affect these changes.

However, the flavanol enrichment did modulate taste and can affect the motivation to consume different types of chocolate.

Original Article

Esser, D., Mars, M., & Oosterink, E. (2013). Dark chocolate consumption improves leukocyte adhesion factors and vascular function in overweight men. The FASEB Journal, 28(3), 1464-1473. doi:10.1096/fj.13-239384

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