The findings showed that consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa products was associated with improvements in specific circulating biomarkers of cardiometabolic health.
“We found that cocoa flavanol intake may reduce dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides), insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, which are all major subclinical risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases,” said Simin Liu, Professor at Brown University in Rhode Islands, US.
There were small-to-modest but statistically significant improvements among those who ate flavanol-rich cocoa product versus those who did not.
The greatest effects were seen among trial volunteers who ate between 200 and 600 mg of flavanols a day (based on their cocoa consumption).
They had significant declines in blood glucose and insulin, as well as another indicator of insulin resistance called HOMA-IR.
Further, they also saw an increase in HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
Participants who consumed higher doses saw some of the insulin resistance benefits and a drop in triglycerides, but not a significant increase in HDL.
For the study, the team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of cocoa consumption and included 1,139 volunteers in these trials.