Thayzis de Paula Silva*, Aline Andressa Silva, Mayla Cardoso Fernandes Toffolo, Aline Silva de Aguiar
Silva et al. J Clin Transl Res 2022; 8(6):11
Published online: November 10, 2022
Background: Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), have caused many deaths worldwide. Atherosclerotic plaque formation is common in individuals with CVDs. Thus, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutritional strategies can be used to prevent or inhibit this process. Due to its higher concentrations of cocoa, dark chocolate is considered a functional food owing to the presence and action of phytochemical compounds, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions. However, the recommended amounts of these compounds to prevent atherosclerosis have not yet been fully elucidated.
Aim: To review the effects of cocoa and dark chocolate intake on the prevention of cardiovascular dysfunction and atherosclerosis.
Methods: This narrative review was based on a search of PubMed and Lilacs. The search was conducted from September 2021 to February 2022 using the following keywords: flavonoids, cocoa, atherosclerosis, oxidative stress, and inflammation. The inclusion criteria were original articles, meta-analyses, and experimental and clinical studies published between 2002 and 2022 in English, focusing on the subject addressed. The exclusion criteria were the title and abstract reading and duplication of articles in the databases.
Results: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions of phytochemicals in cocoa and dark chocolate are related to the modulation of nitric oxide via activation/phosphorylation and acting as a vasodilator. Furthermore, these phytochemicals reduce the formation of reactive oxygen species and activate antioxidant enzymes. The anti-inflammatory activities are related to the modulation of nuclear factor kappa B in the reduction of inflammatory markers, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, C-reactive protein, and pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as in the reduction of adhesion molecules in the wall of the vases.
Conclusion: The main phytochemicals present in cocoa and dark chocolates are catechins and their epicatechin isomers, which are responsible for improving inflammatory, metabolic, and antioxidant profiles. Its consumption can be encouraged, but with caution, owing to the caloric supply and forms of chocolate production, as these factors can reduce the presence of flavonoids in its composition.
Relevance for patients: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions of the phytochemicals in cocoa and dark chocolate are responsible for modulating nitric oxide via activation/phosphorylation and acting as a vasodilator. Reducing the formation of reactive oxygen species, as well as activating antioxidant enzymes. As for the anti-inflammatory activities, they modulate the nuclear factor kappa B, reducing inflammatory markers, thus improving the antioxidant and inflammatory profile of these patients.
1. School of Nutrition, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Campus Morro do Cruzeiro, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
2. Institute of Biological Sciences, Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Juiz de Fora, University City, São Pedro, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
3. School of Nutrition, Department of Clinical and Social Nutrition, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Campus Morro do Cruzeiro, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
4. Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Nutrition Emília de Jesus Ferreiro, Fluminense Federal University, Valonguinho, Centro, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Thayzis de Paula Silva
School of Nutrition, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Campus Morro do Cruzeiro, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais.
Phone: +55 32 98 8354 067
Department of Pharmaceutics, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
Department of Pharmaceutics, Jiaxing University Medical College, Zhejiang, China
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