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Food Funct. 2012 Oct;3(10):1035-43. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Differential effect of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate on biomarkers of glucose metabolism and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy, overweight and obese subjects: a randomized clinical trial.

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MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.


The association between excess cortisol and various parameters of metabolic syndrome including hypertension, insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia is increasingly recognised. The present single-blind randomised placebo-controlled cross-over study compared the effect of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate (DC) on biomarkers of glucose metabolism, lipid profile, and blood pressure (BP) in females with BMI ≥ 25 kg m(-2) (n = 21) and females with BMI < 25 kg m(-2) (n = 21). Volunteers consumed 20 g of DC containing 500 mg polyphenols or a placebo DC with negligible polyphenol-content daily for 4 weeks, separated by a 2-week washout period. Systolic BP and diastolic BP decreased after 4 weeks of polyphenol-rich DC. Placebo raised fasting insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and salivary cortisol, an effect that was significantly different from polyphenol-rich DC which had a negligible effect on fasting insulin, HOMA-IR and salivary cortisol. Females with BMI ≥ 25 kg m(-2) responded less favourably to placebo than lean females and consequently had higher fasting insulin and HOMA-IR, in addition to a lower quantitative sensitivity check index (QUICKI) after ingestion of placebo compared to polyphenol-rich DC. No significant changes in lipid profile were observed. This study provides evidence for the metabolic benefits of consuming polyphenol-rich dark chocolate while demonstrating the possibility of adverse effects occurring with polyphenol-poor chocolate placebo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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