Introduction: Cocoa flavonoids have been described to reduce the cardiovascular risk. Nevertheless, the involved mechanisms should be clarified and the dose-effect relation has never been evaluated. Aim: To investigate the dose-dependent effects of cocoa flavonoids on markers of endothelial and platelet activation and oxidative stress. Methods: According to a randomized, double-blind, controlled, cross-over design, 20 healthy nonsmokers were assigned to receive either five treatments with daily intake of 10 g cocoa (0, 80, 200, 500 and 800 mg cocoa flavonoids/day) in five periods lasting 1 week each. Results: Compared with flavonoid-free cocoa control, cocoa reduced sICAM-1 mean values [from 1190.2 to 1123.0; 906.3; 741.7 and 625.6 pg/mL (p = 0.0198 and p = 0.0016, for 500 and 800 mg respectively], sCD40L mean values [from 218.8 to 210.2; 165.5; 134.5 and 128.4 pg/mL (p = 0.023 and p = 0.013, for 500 and 800 mg respectively] and 8-isoprostanes F2 mean values [from 4703.9 to 4670.7; 2000.1; 2098.4 and 2052.3 pg/mL (p = 0.025; p = 0.034 and p = 0.029, for 200, 500 and 800 mg respectively)]. Conclusions: In our study we observed that short-term cocoa consumption improved proinflammatory mediators, lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress with a significant effect for higher dosages of flavonoids. Our findings suggest cocoa might be a valid tool for dietary intervention in prevention of atherosclerosis.
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