Cocoa Flavanols

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Cocoa Flavanol Content Claims

Understanding Cocoa Flavanol content claims: What do you need to know?


Building on decades of research, Mars has developed a new methodology to measure cocoa flavanols that is more accurate and more reliable than previous methods.

What are cocoa flavanols?

Cocoa flavanols are compounds found in raw cocoa. There is a strong body of scientific evidence that demonstrates that regular cocoa flavanol intake can improve the function of blood vessels, as well as positively impact a number of markers related to cardiovascular health, like blood pressure. Research has also shown that regular intake of cocoa flavanols can improve cognitive function in healthy adults.


Importantly, this new approach uses a standard for cocoa flavanols developed, endorsed, and distributed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Dept. of Commerce (NIST) and soon to be commercially-available through NIST (Reference Material 8403).

This newly published, and validated method will enable the scientific community, industry and its regulators to measure flavanol content in a consistent way. Eventually, for consumers, this will mean more consistent package labels, making it easier to make informed decisions about how many milligrams of cocoa flavanols are in any given product.

Conversion Table

Scientific papers published before Dec 2019 used the previous method to assess and report on how many milligrams of cocoa flavanols are in certain products or test materials. To help compare those measurements with new products and research publications, Mars has developed a conversion table to compare the quantities of cocoa flavanol reported by the original method for total CF analysis and the most recent method.

The values in the table below are approximations. These values are shown as ranges in order to reflect the expected analytical variability due to the method, as well as the variability associated with the different cocoa based-materials used in the published research (i.e. cocoa powder- based beverages, cocoa extract based beverages, cocoa extract based capsules, etc.). Overall, cocoa flavanol levels determined by this new method (2020) are about 25% lower than cocoa flavanols as determined by the original method.

It is important to note that the levels of CF in products have not changed, rather our approach to measurement has. With this latest method, we have reached a more accurate way to measure and report CF levels.

Footer Notes
Bussy, U., et al, Reliable, accessible and transferable method for the quantification of flavanols and procyanidins in foodstuffs and dietary supplements, Food & Function. Available via:
DOI: 10.1039/c9fo02762a

Table: Cocoa Flavanol Content – Methodological Comparison
Previous Method New Method - 2020
(Approximate content range)
Used on product descriptions and research published BEFORE December 2019 Used on product descriptions and research published AFTER December 2019
200 mg cocoa flavanols 125-165 mg cocoa flavanols
300 mg cocoa flavanols 205-245 mg cocoa flavanols
450 mg cocoa flavanols 310-370 mg cocoa flavanols
500 mg cocoa flavanols 340-410 mg cocoa flavanols
600 mg cocoa flavanols 410-490 mg cocoa flavanols
900 mg cocoa flavanols 615-735 mg cocoa flavanols