Chocolate Study (2001)

Cocoa powder is rich in polyphenols and, thus, may contribute to the reduction of lipid peroxidation. Our aim was to study the effects of long-term ingestion of chocolate, with differing amounts of polyphenols, on serum lipids and lipid peroxidation ex vivo and in vivo. We conducted a 3 week clinical supplementation trial of 45 nonsmoking, healthy volunteers. Participants consumed 75 g daily of either white chocolate (white chocolate, WC group), dark chocolate (dark chocolate, DC group), or dark chocolate enriched with cocoa polyphenols (high-polyphenol chocolate, HPC group).

In the DC and HPC groups, an increase in serum HDL cholesterol was observed (11.4% and 13.7%, respectively), whereas in the WC group there was a small decrease (-2.9%, p < 0.001). The concentration of serum LDL diene conjugates, a marker of lipid peroxidation in vivo, decreased 11.9% in all three study groups. No changes were seen in the total antioxidant capacity of plasma, in the oxidation susceptibility of serum lipids or VLDL + LDL, or in the concentration of plasma F2-isoprostanes or hydroxy fatty acids.

Cocoa polyphenols may increase the concentration of HDL cholesterol, whereas chocolate fatty acids may modify the fatty acid composition of LDL and make it more resistant to oxidative damage.

More information:

Jaakko Mursu, Sari Voutilainen, Tiina H Rissanen, Jyrki K Virtanen, Tarja Nurmi, Jari Kaikkonen, Kristiina Nyyssönen, Jukka T. Salonen. The effect of white chocolate, dark chocolate and cocoa polyphenol enriched chocolate on serum lipids and lipid oxidation. Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine 2004;37:1351-59.