Background: Normal weight obese (NWO) syndrome is defined as an excessive body fat associated with a normal body mass index and characterized by a higher risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Recent studies have demonstrated that dark chocolate (DC) has beneficial effects in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of DC consumption on lipid profile, inflammatory markers, biochemical parameters, and blood pressure, in NWO women.
Materials and methods: 15 women affected by NWO syndrome, aged 20-40 years, were included in the study. After a DC-free washout period, subjects received DC (100 g/die) containing 70% cocoa for 7-days. Body composition by Dual energy-X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was performed at baseline. Blood pressure, anthropometric measurements, biochemical parameters and plasma levels of some cytokines were measured before and after DC consumption.
Results: After DC consumption, we observed a significant increase in the HDL cholesterol level (Delta% = +10.41±13,53; p ≤ 0.05), a significant decrease of total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio (Delta %= -11.45±7.03; p ≤ 0.05), LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio (Delta % = -11.70±8.91; p ≤ 0.05), and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) (Delta % = -32.99±3.84; p ≤ 0.05). In addition, a reduction in abdomen circumference was observed. We also found a positive correlation between changes in atherogenic indices, and IL-1Ra, abdomen reduction.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that regular consumption of DC could be useful in maintaining a good atherogenic profile, due to the favourable effects on HDL cholesterol, lipoprotein ratios and inflammation markers.