European journal of nutrition 2018 01 12() doi 10.1007/s00394-018-1612-6
Theobromine, a component of cocoa, may favorably affect conventional lipid-related cardiovascular risk markers, but effects on flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and other vascular function markers are not known.
To evaluate the effects of 4-week theobromine consumption (500 mg/day) on fasting and postprandial vascular function markers.
In a randomized, double-blind crossover study, 44 apparently healthy overweight (N = 30) and obese (N = 14) men and women with low HDL-C concentrations, consumed daily 500 mg theobromine or placebo for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, FMD, peripheral arterial tonometry (PAT), augmentation index (AIx), pulse wave velocity (PWV), blood pressure (BP) and retinal microvasculature measurements were performed. These measurements were carried out under fasting conditions and 2.5 h after a high-fat mixed meal challenge.
4-week theobromine consumption did not change fasting vascular function markers, except for a decrease in central AIx (cAIx, - 1.7 pp, P = 0.037) and a trend towards smaller venular calibers (- 2 µm, P = 0.074). Consuming a high-fat mixed meal decreased FMD (0.89 pp, P = 0.002), reactive hyperemia index (RHI, - 0.30, P < 0.001), peripheral systolic BP (SBP, - 3 mmHg, P ≤ 0.001), peripheral diastolic BP (DBP, - 2 mmHg, P ≤ 0.001), central SBP (- 6 mmHg, P ≤ 0.001) and central DBP (- 2 mmHg, P ≤ 0.001), but increased heart rate (HR, 2 bpm, P < 0.001). Theobromine did not modify these postprandial effects, but increased postprandially the brachial artery diameter (0.03 cm, P = 0.015), and decreased the cAIx corrected for a HR of 75 (cAIx75, - 5.0 pp, P = 0.004) and peripheral AIx (pAIx, - 6.3 pp, P = 0.017). CONCLUSION
Theobromine consumption did not improve fasting and postprandial endothelial function, but increased postprandial peripheral arterial diameters and decreased the AIx. These findings do not suggest that theobromine alone contributes to the proposed cardioprotective effects of cocoa. This trial was registered on clinicaltrials.gov under study number NCT02209025.