Abstract Aims Previous epidemiological studies have suggested that ingestion of chocolate reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the present study, we examined the effects of flavan-3-ols derived from cocoa on blood pressure, lipolysis, and thermogenesis in rats fed a high-fat diet and that showed early signs of metabolic syndrome. Main methods The rats were divided into three groups, and fed either normal diet (normal), 60% fat high-fat diet (HFD), or HFD containing 0.2% flavan-3-ols (HFD-flavan) for 4 weeks. At the end of the feeding period, blood pressure was measured and animals were sacrificed under anesthesia. Lipolysis and thermogenesis-related protein levels were measured in several tissues by Western blotting, and mitochondrial DNA copy number was measured by RT-PCR. Key findings Mean blood pressure and epididymal adipose tissue weight of HFD-flavan were significantly lower compared with those of HFD. Uncoupling protein (UCP)1 in brown adipose tissue and UCP3 in gastrocnemius of HFD-flavan were significantly increased compared with those of HFD group. Carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) 2 levels in liver and medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) levels in gastrocnemius and liver were significantly increased by the supplementation of flavan-3-ols. Significance In addition to having hypotensive effects, flavan-3-ols enhance thermogenesis and lipolysis and consequently reduce white adipose tissue weight gain in response to high-fat diet feeding.
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