12 January - 20 June 2016

Cocoa powder found to reduce obesity-related inflammation in obese mice fed a high fat diet

19 June 13

A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition has investigated the effects of cocoa powder supplement on obesity-related inflammation in high fat fed obese mice.  Previous research has indicated that cocoa polyphenols are beneficial to health, including modulating atherosclerosis and hypertension.  Potential mechanisms for this benefit include the inhibition of platelet aggregation, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.  However Lambert et al, the authors of this current study from Pennsylvania State University, report that few studies have investigated the effects of cocoa and its constituents against obesity and metabolic syndrome.  One hundred and twenty six mice were fed either a low fat diet (10% kcal from fat) or a high fat diet (60% kcal from fat) for 18 weeks.  The mice who consumed the high fat diet were then split into two groups based on body weight.  One group continued with just the high fat diet and the other group continued with the high fat diet but supplemented the diet with 8% cocoa powder for 10 weeks.  Lambert et al weekly recorded the mice body weight and food intake.  The scientists measured fasting blood glucose levels at baseline and again at regular intervals throughout the intervention.  The scientists also analysed faecal lipid content, 7 weeks after treatment with the cocoa-supplemented diet, and liver triglycerides amongst others.  After 8 weeks of treatment the average body weight of the high fat treated mice was 1.3 fold higher than that of the low fat treated mice.  Cocoa supplementation decreased final body weight by 4.7% compared to high fat controls and decreased the rate of body weight gain by 15.8%, without affecting the food and energy intake.  Cocoa treatment increased faecal lipid content by 55.3% compared to the high fat mice.  No differences were found between mean fasting blood glucose and final blood glucose.  Lambert et al report that levels of inflammation and diabetes were almost identical in the mice fed the supplemented high fat diet, and the mice fed a low-fat diet.  Those fed the cocoa had about 27 percent lower plasma insulin levels than the mice that were not fed cocoa. High levels of insulin can signal that a patient has diabetes.   They also found the cocoa powder supplement reduced the levels of liver triglycerides in mice by around 32%.  Lambert et al report that dietary supplementation with 8% cocoa powder in mice is equivalent to an approximated daily dose of 54 g of cocoa powder consumption in humans based on a 2000 kcal daily energy intake.   According to typical preparation methods, this amount of cocoa powder is enough to make 4 cups of hot cocoa.  Lambert et al suggest two mechanisms as to why cocoa may reduce inflammation.  Firstly that excess fat may activate a distress signal that causes immune cells to become activated and cause inflammation. The cocoa may reduce the precursors that act as a distress signal to initiate this inflammatory response. Secondly that excess fat in the diet interferes with the body's ability to keep a bacterial component called endotoxin from entering the bloodstream through gaps between cells in the digestive system -- gut barrier function -- and alerting an immune response. The cocoa in this case may help improve gut barrier function.

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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