Obesity causes inflammation which may lead to development of co-morbidities like cardiovascular diseases. Cocoa is a popular food ingredient that has been shown to mitigate obesity and inflammation in preclinical models. Cocoa typically undergoes fermentation and roasting prior to consumption, which can affect the polyphenol content in cocoa. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of fermentation and roasting protocols on the ability of cocoa to mitigate obesity, gut barrier dysfunction, and chronic inflammation in high fat (HF)-fed, obese C57BL/6J mice. We found that treatment of mice with 80 mg/g dietary cocoa powder for 8 weeks reduced rate of body weight gain in both male and female mice (46–57%), regardless of fermentation and roasting protocol. Colonic length was increased (11–24%) and gut permeability was reduced (48–79%) by cocoa supplementation. Analysis of the cecal microbiome showed that cocoa, regardless of fermentation and roasting protocol, reduced the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes. Multivariate statistical analysis of markers of inflammation and body weight data showed sex differences in the effect of both the HF diet as well as cocoa supplementation. Based on this data there was strong protective efficacy from cocoa supplementation especially for the more processed cocoa samples. Overall, this study shows that anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory efficacy of cocoa is resilient to changes in polyphenol content and composition induced by fermentation or roasting. Further, this study shows that although cocoa has beneficial effects in both males and females, there are significant sex differences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Molecular Biology
- Nutrition and Dietetics
- Clinical Biochemistry