Effect of cocoa products and flavanols on platelet aggregation in humans: a systematic review
Previous evidence suggested an active role of cocoa products and flavanols in modulating platelet aggregation. However, cocoa flavanols are characterized by a low bioavailability that can deeply affect their presence in biological fluids and raise questions on their biological effect in humans. We performed a systematic search on Medline, Embase, Cochrane and ProQuest databases, until April 2015, on the effect of cocoa products on platelet aggregation in human intervention studies. We identified 13 interventions, of which only five involved repeated administration. Different effects were observed on the basis of the platelet aggregation test used, whereas neither a longer duration of treatment nor a higher dose was associated with a higher inhibition of platelet aggregation. In conclusion, the reviewed results suggest that consumption of cocoa products in bolus administration positively affects platelet aggregation in both healthy subjects and diseased patients. On the other hand, more evidence is required in order to assess the effect of long-term cocoa product ingestion and to identify the bioactive components involved.