12 January - 20 June 2016

Flavanol enriched chocolate and the risk of cardiovascular disease

23 Jan 13

A study carried out by Luisa M. Ostertag et al. at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition in Aberdeen has investigated the gender-specific ability of flavan-3-ol enriched chocolate and white chocolate to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.  The aggregation and activation of platelets leads to the development of thrombi and plaque formation in blood vessels.  Flavanols are known to be beneficial in platelet function.  The findings published in Molecular Nutrition & food Research display encouraging effects on platelet activation and aggregation after eating the enriched chocolate in comparison to standard dark chocolate.  The scientists recruited 47 healthy participants who took part in a randomised-controlled trial of three types of chocolate:  white chocolate with no flavanoids; enriched and standard dark chocolate containing 907mg and 382mg respectively.  Ostertag et al. measured platelet aggregation, ex-vivo bleeding time and platelet activation.   Post consumption concentrations of the compounds and their metabolites were measured in plasma and urine to investigate bioavailability showing that 'differences in efficacy by which flavan-3-ols affect platelet function were only partially explained by concentrations of flavan-3-ols and their metabolites in plasma or urine.'  Blood and urine samples were collected 2h and 6h after consumption and the scientists report that the effects of the chocolate began to abate with time.  From the samples of women's platelets an increase in fibrinogen binding was found with dark chocolate.  Ostertag et al also reported that 'white chocolate, compared with standard dark chocolate beneficially affected platelet activation and ex vivo bleeding time, in men only.'  The authors hypothesize that since no flavonoids were present in the white chocolate the effect could be caused by whey protein which has 'been shown to inhibit platelet function in vitro.'  The study concludes with a warning that although the enriched dark chocolate and white chocolate (in men only) improved platelet function, high levels of fat and sugar found in chocolate 'may outweigh any beneficial platelet effects.'

RSSL's Functional Ingredients Laboratory can determine physiologically active compounds, including flavanols and other polyphenols and other phytochemicals in a range of fruits, vegetables, herbals and dietary supplements.  For more information contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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