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The effects of chocolate on cardiovascular health are still a matter of debate. Chocolate may adversely affect cardiovascular risk because of its effects on glucose, lipids, and body weight or potentially favour cardiovascular health through antioxidative effects of chocolate ingredients, such as flavonoids (present in dark but not white chocolate).
Endothelial dysfunction and platelet activation are cornerstones in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis, leading to vasoconstriction, thrombus formation, and inflammation. Smoking is a major cardiovascular risk factor. The mechanisms promoting atherothrombosis in smokers primarily include increased oxidative stress that enhances proatherogenic processes such as low density lipoprotein oxidation and inactivation of endothelium derived nitric oxide. Platelets contribute both to acute coronary syndromes and to the progression of atherothrombosis. Both active and passive cigarette smoking has consistently been shown to induce endothelial dysfunction. Therefore, smokers serve as an ideal model to study the beneficial vascular effects of antioxidant strategies such as dark chocolate.1
The goal of the present study was to investigate whether the beneficial antioxidant effect of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate can induce an improvement of endothelial and platelet function in healthy volunteers with known endothelial dysfunction and platelet hyperreactivity.
Twenty five male smokers were enrolled in the study after giving written informed consent. Women were excluded for known sex hormone induced differences in vascular tone and reactivity. All study participants did not take any medication, including vitamins or dietary supplements. The local institutional ethical review board approved the protocol.
To assess the effect of dark …
Funding: The study was funded by the Swiss National Research Foundation (NF-3200B0-100318/1 and NF-32-065447.01)
Competing interest: None declared
Ethical approval: The study was approved by the University of Zurich Institutional Ethical Review Board
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