RANDOMIZED STUDY OF THE ACUTE EFFECTS OF COCOA-RICH CHOCOLATE ON THE VASCULAR FUNCTION AND COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE OF YOUNG AND HEALTHY ADULTS


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Abstract

Objective:To evaluate the acute effects of cocoa-rich chocolate consumption on the vascular function and cognitive performance of healthy young adults.Design and method:A randomized study was conducted in 30 healthy participants aged 18 to 27 years. Half of the participants ingested a 20 g single dose of low cocoa chocolate (LCC:∼55%; 12,61 ± 1,35 mg equivalent of epichatequin/g) and the others ingested a single dose of 20 g of high cocoa chocolate (HCC:∼90%; 18,19 ± 2,64 mg equivalent of epichatequin/g). A baseline evaluation was performed after which the participants ingested the assigned chocolate, and two hours after a post-intervention evaluation was repeated. Each evaluation included heart ultrasonography, carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) and carotid pulse wave analysis (PWA) with the Complior Analyse device, flow mediated slowing (FMS), cognitive testing and functional near-infra-red (fNIR) screening of the prefrontal cortex perfusion.Results:The baseline evaluation presented similar values within normal range in both groups. Memory scores were similar in both groups. A positive vascular effect was depicted in both groups, but was more distinct in the HCC group. A statistically significant decrease of brachial and central systolic and pulse pressures were observed, with greatest effect size in the HCC group. A trend for improvement in the AiX and the FMS was observed in the HCC group only. Improvement in the memory scores (speed and accuracy) was observed in both groups, with a larger improvement in the HCC group, and related with an improvement in the pre-frontal cortex perfusion as assessed with the fNIR method. Dilation of the proximal segment of the right and left coronary arteries, assessed with transthoracic echocardiography (Parasternal short axis - aortic valve level) was also found, with greatest effect size in the HCC group.Conclusions:Acute intake of cocoa-rich chocolate improves vascular function and cognitive performance in healthy young adults, by reducing central brachial artery pressures, promoting vascular dilation, and improving brain perfusion over the prefrontal cortex.

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