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Research on flavanols and procyanidins provides new insights into how these phytonutrients may positively impact human health
Date:3/6/2012

this "break-down hypothesis" would mean that procyanidins exert cardiovascular benefits by acting as precursors of flavanols. Answering this question is therefore crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the role of these phytonutrients for human health and nutrition.

"Assessing whether or not procyanidins are absorbed or contribute to the systemic flavanol pool is more than just a technical distinction. In fact, the answers to these questions could have a significant impact on investigations into the mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular health benefits associated with the intake of flavanol- and procyanidin-containing foods," commented Dr. Hagen Schroeter study author and director of fundamental health and nutrition research at Mars, Incorporated.

As flavanols and procyanidins are commonly found together in foods, such as cocoa, grapes, and apples, up until now it has not been possible to directly assess the individual contribution of procyanidins to the circulating pool of flavanols in the body. Using carefully developed, nutrient-matched cocoa-based drinks, containing flavanols and procyanidins either in combination or individually, the researchers in this study were able to confirm that procyanidins are poorly absorbed. More importantly, the study also demonstrated for the first time that procyanidins do not break-down in the gut to contribute to the flavanols present in circulation. This outcome makes it very unlikely that procyanidins affect blood vessel function, either directly or through a break-down into flavanols. Interestingly, the research also demonstrates that micro-organisms in the digestive system transform both flavanols and procyanidins into another group of compounds called gamma-valerolactones. Further research is needed to investigate if, and to what extent, these compounds formed in the gut contribute to the cardiovascular health benefits observed following the consumption of foods rich in flavanols and procyanidi
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Contact: Elizabeth Willett
Elizabeth.willett@mss.effem.com
301-768-9100
Mars Symbioscience
Source:Eurekalert

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