May 2, 2019

Flavonoids in dark chocolate

The beneficial plant compounds in chocolate are called flavonoids, which contribute to the dark pigment in chocolate. Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds found abundantly in cocoa.

Dark chocolate contains a high percentage (equal to 70 percent) of cocoa solids, and little or no added sugar. As a result, dark chocolate contains more health benefits. At the contrary, milk chocolate contains less flavonoids as evidenced by its lighter color.

Cocoa flavonoids are classified as flavanols and include the monomers, (-)-epicatechin, (+)-catechin, and procyanidins, the oligomers of these monomeric units. Flavonoids occur naturally in the cocoa plant as a way of protecting the plant. Their presence affects the taste of chocolate and they are responsible for the astringency in the unprocessed cocoa bean.

The flavonoid found in dark chocolate has been linked to decreases in blood pressure, improvements in endothelial dysfunction that promote vascular homeostasis, improvements in antiplatelet activity, improvements in insulin sensitivity, increases in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentrations, improvements in cognitive, and antioxidant properties.

Furthermore, an increase in plasma antioxidant capacity and a decrease in plasma oxidation products are associated with elevated epicatechin concentrations. Research recently reported that the cocoa flavonoids decrease plasma leukotriene-prostacyclin ratios in human plasma and aortic endothelial cells (Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 3, 197–204, 2004).
Flavonoids in dark chocolate

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