A method for the analysis of flavanols in cocoa has been developed by a team of researchers from Mars Botanical, a scientific division of Mars, Incorporated, and recently published in the Journal of AOAC International. Drawing on the research team's expertise in flavanol chemistry and analytics, the method identifies and quantifies the distinct stereochemical forms of flavanols found in cocoa and chocolate products. Foods rich in flavanols are increasingly recognized for their ability to exert positive effects on the cardiovascular system, but investigations have shown that the distinct chemical structure (stereochemistry) of a flavanol influences its absorption, metabolism, and consequently its ability to exert beneficial effects. This validated method could therefore have important implications for future investigations.
"By clearly identifying the specific stereochemical forms of flavanols in cocoa, this method can help establish stronger connections between cocoa flavanols and cardiovascular health. Our goal was not only to develop a method that could be used by Mars, but instead to validate one that could be widely implemented using standard analytical equipment in order to advance research in this field," commented Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe, study author and R&D Director at Mars Botanical.
Flavanols are a group of natural compounds that can be particularly abundant in cocoa and are also found in foods such as grapes, apples, and tea. Data from epidemiological studies and dietary interventions demonstrate that flavanol-rich foods can have a positive impact on cardiovascular function and health. Importantly, however, the flavanols in foods have different stereochemical forms, specifically ()-epicatechin and (+)-epicatechin, and ()-catechin and (+)-catechin. Some of these forms, notably ()-catechin and (+)-epicatechin, are present in foods almost exclusively as a result of food processing.
However, these stereochemical ch
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