High Flavonoid Cocoa Supplement Ameliorates Plasma Oxidative Stress and Inflammation Levels While Improving Mobility and Quality of Life in Older Subjects: A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Sep 15;74(10):1620-1627. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glz107.


Background: The age-related decline in mass, strength, and performance of skeletal muscle is associated with loss of independence, falls risk, disability, institutionalization, and death.

Methods: To determine whether a cocoa supplement enriched in flavonoids can improve plasma markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, physical performance and frailty in middle-aged and older subjects, we conducted a two-phase, randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. The initial study included 60 subjects (55- to 70-year-old) allocated into placebo (P), highly alkalinized (no-flavonoid; NF), or flavonoid-rich natural cocoa (F) beverage groups. The follow-up study included 74 older subjects (65- to 90-year-old) randomly distributed into NF or F groups. Subjects were instructed to consume the beverages once/day for up to 12-weeks. A comprehensive (aging relevant) set of end points were assessed, which included mean change in blood plasma metabolic and oxidative stress indicators, in physical performance tests and quality of life (QoL).

Results: In the initial study, the F group showed improved glycemia, triglyceridemia, High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceridemia/HDL index, and oxidative markers. Performance on the Up and Go test, skeletal muscle index, and quality of life also improved. In the follow-up study, F treatment was associated with significant improvements in metabolic, oxidative stress, and inflammatory endpoints and positive effects on physical performance, frailty indicators, and quality of life (F vs. NF group).

Conclusions: Regular flavonoids consumption positively affects blood oxidative stress and inflammation end points, cardiometabolic risk markers, physical performance, and quality of life. The sum of such effects may help to mitigate the extent of frailty development in the elderly people.

Trial registration: NCT03585868.

Keywords: Functional performance; Metabolism; Preventative health care; Sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Beverages*
  • Chocolate*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Quality of Life


  • Flavonoids

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03585868