Cocoa flavanols reduce circulatory inflammation when consistently consumed

September 29, 2008


Italian researchers report that people who consume dark chocolate on a daily basis have a significantly lower level of inflammation as indicated by a reduced level of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. The researchers selected 2,141 participants in the Moli-Sani Project, an ongoing study of men and women aged 35 and older. Chocolate was reported as not having been consumed during the past year by 1317 subjects, and 824 regularly consumed dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate consumers tended to be younger, with lower systolic blood pressure and body mass index compared to non-consumers. Participants who reported consuming up to one serving of dark chocolate every 3 days had significantly lower CRP levels than those who consumed no chocolate and this result persisted independently of body mass index and blood pressure. The failure of higher intake levels to further reduce CRP was speculated to be due to the increased intake of calories and saturated fats that accompany chocolate, which would offset the beneficial effects of its polyphenol content.
The reduction in CRP values observed in the current study among dark chocolate consumers is associated with a 26 percent lower risk of a cardiovascular event in men and a 33 percent lower risk in women compared to the risk experienced by non-consumers. The study is published in the October, 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Vitamin C linked to Reduced Bone Loss in Older Men

A high intake of vitamin C may help reduce bone loss, at least in elderly men, according to a new study. "Vitamin C had an effect on the [bone density of] hips in men," says Katherine L. Tucker, PhD, a senior scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and senior author of the study.
For years, researchers have known that vitamin C is needed for normal bone development and for the formation of collagen, the fibrous protein part of bone, cartilage, and other structures. But few studies have looked at the relationship between vitamin C intake from food and supplements and bone density, Tucker says.
Tucker and her colleagues evaluated the bone density of 213 men and 393 women, average age 75 at the start, over a four-year period to see what association their vitamin C intake had with their bones. The participants were part of the long-running Framingham Osteoporosis study.
Men with the highest vitamin C intake had the least bone loss in the hip. A similar finding in women was less than significant, Tucker says. The effect became most significant, she says, at the highest level, about 314 milligrams of vitamin C daily from supplements and food. The recommended intake is 75 milligrams daily for women and 90 milligrams daily for men.
"At one hip site [of two measured], for example, men in the highest intake group, who took in 314 milligrams of vitamin C a day in food and supplements but had low calcium intake, did not lose bone density on average," she says, ''whereas those in the lowest group, who took in 106 milligrams, lost 5.6% of their bone." "The only significant effects on bone loss were found in men who were low in vitamin E or calcium," she says. He study is published in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.