BACKGROUND: Dietary cocoa is an important source of flavonoids and is associated with favorable cardiovascular disease effects, such as improvements in vascular function and lipid profiles, in nondiabetic adults. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is associated with adverse effects on postprandial serum glucose, lipids, inflammation, and vascular function.
OBJECTIVE: We examined the hypothesis that cocoa reduces metabolic stress in obese T2D adults after a high-fat fast-food-style meal.
METHODS: Adults with T2D [n = 18; age (means ± SEs): 56 ± 3 y; BMI (in kg/m(2)): 35.3 ± 2.0; 14 women; 4 men) were randomly assigned to receive cocoa beverage (960 mg total polyphenols; 480 mg flavanols) or flavanol-free placebo (110 mg total polyphenols; <0.1 mg flavanols) with a high-fat fast-food-style breakfast [766 kcal, 50 g fat (59% energy)] in a crossover trial. After an overnight fast (10-12 h), participants consumed the breakfast with cocoa or placebo, and blood sample collection [glucose, insulin, lipids, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)] and vascular measurements were conducted at 0.5, 1, 2, 4, and 6 h postprandially on each study day. Insulin resistance was evaluated by homeostasis model assessment.
RESULTS: Over the 6-h study, and specifically at 1 and 4 h, cocoa increased HDL cholesterol vs. placebo (overall Δ: 1.5 ± 0.8 mg/dL; P ≤ 0.01) but had no effect on total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and hsCRP. Cocoa increased serum insulin concentrations overall (Δ: 5.2 ± 3.2 mU/L; P < 0.05) and specifically at 4 h but had no overall effects on insulin resistance (except at 4 h, P < 0.05), systolic or diastolic blood pressure, or small artery elasticity. However, large artery elasticity was overall lower after cocoa vs. placebo (Δ: -1.6 ± 0.7 mL/mm Hg; P < 0.05), with the difference significant only at 2 h.
CONCLUSION: Acute cocoa supplementation showed no clear overall benefit in T2D patients after a high-fat fast-food-style meal challenge. Although HDL cholesterol and insulin remained higher throughout the 6-h postprandial period, an overall decrease in large artery elasticity was found after cocoa consumption. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01886989.