Effects of High Flavanol Dark Chocolate on Cardiovascular Function and Platelet Aggregation.
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Regular consumption of chocolate and cocoa products has been linked to reduced cardiovascular mortality. This study compared the effects of high flavanol dark chocolate (HFDC; 1064mg flavanols/day for 6 weeks) and low flavanol dark chocolate (LFDC; 88mg flavanols/day for 6 weeks) on blood pressure, heart rate, vascular function and platelet aggregation in men with pre-hypertension or mild hypertension. Vascular function was assessed by pulse wave analysis using radial artery applanation tonometry in combination with inhaled salbutamol (0.4 mg) to assess changes due to endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. HFDC did not significantly reduce blood pressure compared to baseline or LFDC. Heart rate was increased by LFDC compared to baseline, but not by HFDC. Vascular responses to salbutamol tended to be greater after HFDC. Platelet aggregation induced by collagen or the thromboxane analogue U46619 was unchanged after LFDC or HFDC, whereas both chocolates reduced responses to ADP and the thrombin receptor activator peptide, SFLLRNamide (TRAP6), relative to baseline. Pre-incubation of platelets with theobromine also attenuated platelet aggregation induced by ADP or TRAP6. We conclude that consumption of HFDC confers modest improvements in cardiovascular function. Platelet aggregation is modulated by a flavanol-independent mechanism that is likely due to theobromine.