Background: Chocolate intake has shown cardiometabolic health benefits. Whether chocolate has any effect on cellular aging remains unknown. We aimed to test the hypothesis that higher chocolate intake is associated with longer leukocyte telomere length (LTL) in adolescents.
Methods: A total of 660 adolescents (aged 14-18 years) were included in the analysis. The chocolate intake was assessed by 7-day, 24-h dietary recalls and split into three groups, which were none, <2 servings/week, and 2 servings/week or more. LTL (T/S ratio) was determined by a modified quantitative polymerase chain reaction-based assay.
Results: Among the 660 adolescents, 58% did not take any chocolate, 25% consumed <2 servings/week, and 17% consumed ≥2 servings/week. Compared to non-consumers, adolescents who consumed chocolate of ≥2 servings/week had 0.27 standard deviation (SD) longer LTL (p = 0.014). Higher chocolate consumption was associated with increased apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) (p = 0.038) and ApoA1/high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (p = 0.046). Moreover, higher ApoA1/HDL levels were correlated with longer LTL (p = 0.026).
Conclusion: Adolescents who consume 2 servings/week or more of chocolate candy have longer LTL compared with non-consumers, and ApoA1/HDL pathway may be involved in this relationship.