Short-term consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa has been demonstrated to improve various facets of vascular health. The purpose of the present study was to determine the effect of 4 weeks of natural cocoa consumption on selected cardiovascular disease (CVD) biomarkers in young (19-35 years) women of differing body mass indices (BMI; normal, overweight or obese). Subjects (n = 24) consumed a natural cocoa-containing product (12.7 g natural cocoa, 148 kcal/serving) or an isocaloric cocoa-free placebo daily for 4 weeks in a random, double-blind manner with a 2-week washout period between treatment arms. Fasted (>8-h) blood samples were collected before and after each 4-week period. Serum was analyzed to determine lipid profile (chemistry analyzer) and CVD biomarkers (26 biomarkers). EDTA-treated blood was used to assess monocytes (CD14, CD16, v11b and CD62L), while citrate-treated blood was used to measure changes in endothelial microparticles (EMPs; CD42a-/45-/144+) by flow cytometry. Natural cocoa consumption resulted in a significant decrease in haptoglobin (P = .034), EMP concentration (P = .017) and monocyte CD62L (P = .047) in obese compared to overweight and normal-weight subjects. Natural cocoa consumption regardless of BMI group was associated with an 18% increase in high-density lipoprotein (P = .020) and a 60% decrease in EMPs (P = .047). Also, obese subjects experienced a 21% decrease in haptoglobin (P = .034) and a 24% decrease in monocyte CD62L expression in (P = .047) following 4 weeks of natural cocoa consumption. Collectively, these findings indicate that acute natural cocoa consumption was associated with decreased obesity-related disease risk. More research is needed to assess the stability of the observed short-term changes.
Keywords: Chronic disease; Endothelial microparticle; Flavanol-rich cocoa; Inflammation; Monocyte adhesion molecule.
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