Cocoa Can Reduce Levels of Inflammatory Biomarkers

Study suggests that cocoa consumption may help protect high-risk patients against atherosclerosis
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- In patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease, cocoa may significantly decrease levels of some inflammatory biomarkers, suggesting that the flavonoids in cocoa may help protect against atherosclerosis, according to a study in the Nov. 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Maria Monagas, a researcher at the University of Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues assigned 42 volunteers (19 men and 23 women; mean age, 69.7 years) to receive either 40 grams of cocoa powder mixed with 500 milliliters of skim milk and then skim milk alone for two periods of four weeks.

The researchers found no significant group differences in the expression of adhesion molecules on T lymphocyte surfaces. However, they found significantly lower expression of very late activation antigen-4, CD-40, and CD36 in monocytes, and lower concentrations of soluble endothelium-derived adhesion molecules P-selectin and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 in serum after the cocoa and milk intake.

"Another positive outcome of our study was the higher high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol concentration after cocoa and milk intake than after milk intake," the authors write. "Although outcomes on lipid metabolism from cocoa feeding trials are still scarce, this finding seems to be in accordance with that of several studies that have reported higher high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol concentrations after cocoa or chocolate intake but no changes in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol."

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