Background: Cardiometabolic profile is usually altered in obesity. Interestingly, the consumption of flavanol-rich foods might be protective against those metabolic alterations.
Objective: To evaluate the postprandial cardiometabolic effects after the acute consumption of cocoa extract before and after 4 weeks of its daily intake. Furthermore, the bioavailability of cocoa extract was investigated.
Design: Twenty-four overweight/obese middle-aged subjects participated in a 4-week intervention study. Half of the volunteers consumed a test meal enriched with 1.4 g of cocoa extract (415 mg flavanols), while the rest of the volunteers consumed the same meal without the cocoa extract (control group). Glucose and lipid profile, as well as blood pressure and cocoa metabolites in plasma, were assessed before and at 60, 120, and 180 min post-consumption, at the beginning of the study (Postprandial 1) and after following a 4-week 15% energy-restricted diet including meals containing or not containing the cocoa extract (Postprandial 2).
Results: In the Postprandial 1 test, the area under the curve (AUC) of systolic blood pressure (SBP) was significantly higher in the cocoa group compared with the control group (p=0.007), showing significant differences after 120 min of intake. However, no differences between groups were observed at Postprandial 2. Interestingly, the reduction of postprandial AUC of SBP (AUC_Postprandial 2-AUC_Postprandial 1) was higher in the cocoa group (p=0.016). Furthermore, cocoa-derived metabolites were detected in plasma of the cocoa group, while the absence or significantly lower amounts of metabolites were found in the control group.
Conclusions: The daily consumption of cocoa extract within an energy-restricted diet for 4 weeks resulted in a greater reduction of postprandial AUC of SBP compared with the effect of energy-restricted diet alone and independently of body weight loss. These results suggest the role of cocoa flavanols on postprandial blood pressure homeostasis.
Keywords: bioavailability; blood pressure; cocoa; diet; polyphenols; weight loss.