Background: Little is known about the effects of cocoa and its main flavanols on the prothrombotic state associated with the development of hypertension in diet-induced obesity models.
Purpose: To evaluate the effects of cocoa powder, cocoa extract and their main flavanols on plasma biomarkers related to impaired coagulation and fibrinolysis and its association with hypertension and obesity-related metabolic disorders in rats fed a hypercaloric diet.
Methods: Male Wistar rats were randomly assigned to 7 treatment groups (n = 7): normal diet (ND); hypercaloric diet control group (HCD); HCD + cocoa powder (CO); HCD + cocoa extract (CO-EX); HCD + (-)-epicatechin (EPI); HCD + (+)-catechin (CAT); and HCD + procyanidin B2 (PB2). Blood pressure was measured using the tail-cuff method (week 7). At the end of the experimental period (week 8), rats were sacrificed and blood samples were collected immediately for coagulation and biochemical analyses.
Results: Oral administration of CO, CO-EX and their main flavanols significantly decreased plasma biomarkers related to impaired coagulation and fibrinolysis (vWF, FVIII, fibrinogen and PAI-1) in rats fed a hypercaloric diet. These effects were associated with decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, aortic oxidative stress (MDA levels) and improvement of dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and circulating markers of inflammation (TNF-α, IL-6 and CRP) compared to the HCD group.
Conclusion: Our results showed that cocoa and its main flavanols may improve endothelial dysfunction and exert their antihypertensive effects by decreasing the prothrombotic state in rats fed a hypercaloric diet. Moreover, improvement of obesity-related metabolic disorders may also contribute to their BP-lowering effect.