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Cardioprotective effects of chocolate and almond consumption in healthy women

Kurlandsky, S.B., K.S. Stote, 2006. Cardioprotective effects of chocolate and almond consumption in healthy women. Nutr. Res. 26:509-516.

The primary objective of this study was to identify potentially synergistic or additive effects of combining consumption of dark chocolate with almonds as part of a low-fat diet on circulating levels of serum lipids and inflammatory markers: intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM), vascular adhesion molecule, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. A 6-week, 4-armed parallel design was used; 49 healthy normocholesterolemic women participated. Subjects were randomized to 1 of 3 treatments: chocolate (41 g/d), almonds (60 g/d), chocolate and almonds, or control (no chocolate or almonds). All subjects followed the National Cholesterol Education Program Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet. All subjects improved dietary intakes in accordance with guidelines, and no subjects gained or lost weight. Serum cholesterol concentrations showed no changes after 6 weeks; however, triacylglycerol levels were reduced by approximately 21%, 13%, 19%, and 11% ( P < .05), in the chocolate, almond, chocolate and almond, and control groups, respectively. Circulating ICAM levels decreased significantly by 10% in the treatment group consuming chocolate only (P = .027). No significant changes were observed for vascular adhesion molecule and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels in any treatment group. No synergistic or additive effects were observed when both products were consumed. In conclusion, consumption of chocolate and almonds as part of the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet for 6 weeks showed no harmful effects in healthy women; all dietary modifications improved serum triacylglycerol levels, and consumption of chocolate reduced levels of circulating ICA