Blood tests found that after participants drank chocolate milk twice a day for four weeks, they had significantly lower levels of several inflammatory biomarkers, though some markers of cellular inflammation remained unchanged. Participants also had significantly higher levels of good HDL cholesterol after completing the chocolate milk regimen. Although more studies are needed, the researchers concluded that “since atherosclerosis is a low-grade inflammatory disease of the arteries, regular cocoa intake seems to prevent or reduce it.”
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that regular consumption of skim milk with flavonoid-rich cocoa may reduce inflammation, potentially slowing or preventing development of atherosclerosis. Researchers noted, however, that the effect was not as pronounced as that seen with red wine. The researchers recruited 47 volunteers, age 55+, who were at risk for heart disease. All subjects received 40 g cocoa powder with 500 mL skim milk per day or only 500 mL skim milk per day for four weeks. Before and after each intervention period, cellular and serum inflammatory biomarkers related to atherosclerosis were evaluated.