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Acute consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa and the reversal of endothelial dysfunction in smokers.

Date Published: 
Tuesday, October 4, 2005

J Am Coll Cardiol 2005, 46 (7), 1276-83.

Authors: 
​Heiss, C.; Kleinbongard, P.; Dejam, A.; Perre, S.; Schroeter, H.; Sies, H.; Kelm, M.
Brief: 

OBJECTIVES:
This study was designed to assess the effect of flavanol-rich food on the circulating pool of bioactive nitric oxide (NO) and endothelial dysfunction in smokers.

BACKGROUND:
Studies suggest that smoking-related vascular disease is caused by impaired NO synthesis and that diets rich in flavanols can increase bioactive NO in plasma.

METHODS:
In smokers (n = 11), the effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on circulating NO species in plasma (RXNO) measured by reductive gas-phase chemiluminescence and endothelial function as assessed by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) were characterized in a dose-finding study orally administering cocoacontaining 88 to 370 mg flavanols and in a randomized double-blind crossover study using 100 mlcocoa drink with high (176 to 185 mg) or low (<11 mg) flavanol content on two separate days. In addition to cocoa drink, ascorbic acid and NO-synthase inhibitor L-NMMA (n = 4) were applied.

RESULTS:
There were significant increases in RXNO (21 +/- 3 nmol/l to 29 +/- 5 nmol/l) and FMD (4.5 +/- 0.8% to 6.9 +/- 0.9%, each p < 0.05) at 2 h after ingestion of 176 to 185 mg flavanols, a dose potentially exerting maximal effects. These changes correlated with increases in flavanol metabolites. Cocoa-associated increases in RXNO and FMD were reversed by L-NMMA. Ascorbic acid had no effect.

CONCLUSIONS:
The circulating pool of bioactive NO and endothelium-dependent vasodilation is acutely increased in smokers following the oral ingestion of a flavanol-rich cocoa drink. The increase in circulating NO pool may contribute to beneficial vascular health effects of flavanol-rich food.