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J Atheroscler Thromb. 2005;12(1):20-8.

Suppressive effect of cocoa powder on atherosclerosis in Kurosawa and Kusanagi-hypercholesterolemic rabbits.

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Toxicology Laboratory, Pharmaceutical Development Department, Meiji Seika Kaisha, Ltd., Kanagawa, Japan.


We investigated the suppressive effect of cocoa powder (cacao polyphenol content: 7.8%) on atherosclerosis in a spontaneous familial hypercholesterolemic model, Kurosawa and Kusanagi-hypercholesterolemic (KHC) rabbits. Six-month dietary administration of cocoa powder had no effects on body weight, hematology or blood chemistry parameters or a lipid profile in KHC rabbits. Antioxidative activity of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) was observed in the 2nd month and 3rd month of administration. Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), the marker of lipid peroxidation, in plasma were decreased in the cocoa powder treated group from the 2nd month of administration during the study period compared to that in the control group. The area of atherosclerotic lesions in th aorta was significantly smaller in the cocoa powder group (30.87%) than in the control (52.39%). Tissue cholesterol content also tended to decrease. Distensibility of the aortic wall was improved significantly in the cocoa powder treated group due to decreases in fatty streaks and intimal thickening compared to that in the control group. These results suggest that cocoa powder has suppressive effect on development of atherosclerotic lesions. We consider that antioxidative activity of polyphenols rich in cocoa powder may be a key factor for the anti-atherosclerotic effect.

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