Numerous dietary intervention studies in humans and animals indicate that flavanol-rich foods and beverages might exert cardioprotective effects with respect to vascular function and platelet reactivity (Keen et al 2005). Acute doses of flavanols and oligomeric procyanidins from cocoa have been observed to inhibit platelet activation (Pearson et al 2002, Rein et al 2000b) and have an aspirin-like effect on primary hemostasis 2 and 6 hours after consumption (Hermann et al 2006, Pearson et al 2002, Rein et al 2000b), with the effects being similar to, but less profound than, aspirin (Pearson et al 2002). Similar results have been observed in longer studies with lower doses of cocoa flavanols, with a double-blind, controlled trial demonstrating significantly lower platelet aggregation and significantly higher plasma ascorbic acid concentrations after supplementation with cocoa flavanols (234 mg cocoa flavanols and procyanidins/day) over 28 days (Murphy et al 2003).
In another randomised trial of 30 healthy volunteers 100 mg of dark chocolate, but not white or milk chocolate, were found to significantly inhibit collagen-induced platelet aggregation (Innes et al 2003). The alteration of eicosanoid synthesis has been suggested as a plausible mechanism by which procyanidins can decrease
platelet activation, and has been observed in an in vitro study of the effect of procyanidin on aortic endothelial cells, as well as in a randomised, blinded, crossover study of high procyanidin chocolate (4.0 mg/g) (Schramm et al 2001).
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