The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 12 No. 6 • October 2009

Consumption of Cocoa Powder Reduces
Inflammatory Biomarkers in Patients at High Risk
of Cardiovascular Disease

Cocoa consumption has been associated with improvement in lipid profile, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and platelet activity and function.1 In a new study,1 researchers examined the effects of cocoa consumption (40 grams of cocoa with 500 mL skim milk per day or the same amount of skim milk without cocoa on various measures of inflammation in 47 high-risk subjects who had diabetes or had 3 or more of the following cardiovascular disease risk factors: tobacco smoking, hypertension, plasma LDL cholesterol ≥ 160 mg/dL, plasma HDL cholesterol ≤ 35 mg/dL, obesity [body mass index (measured as kg/m2) ≥ 30] and/or family history of premature coronary heart disease. Atherosclerosis is now widely considered to be a low-grade inflammatory disease.

One interesting result was a significantly increased level of HDL from baseline in those consuming cocoa and skim milk compared to those consuming skim milk alone. Adhesion molecules CD40, CD36, and VLA-4 found on the surface of monocytes were significantly decreased in the cocoa consuming subjects. Moreover, the soluble adhesion molecules P-selectin and ICAM-1 were significantly decreased in those consuming cocoa. As noted by the authors, the changes in the values for these inflammatory markers was modest as compared to other polyphenol-rich foods, such as wine. “Nonetheless, albeit modest, changes induced by cocoa intake may also contribute to a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors in subjects prone to cardiovascular disease.”1

And, besides, cocoa products (chocolate) taste so good!

  1. Monagas et al. Effect of cocoa powder on the modulation of inflammatory biomarkers in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 90:1144-50 (2009).

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