New Analytical Method Developed To Isolate Flavanols In Cocoa

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Opens the Door to Future Investigations of Individual Cocoa Compounds

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (March 01, 2006) – As research continues to demonstrate a link between cocoa flavanol intake and heart health, a new scientific advancement will make it easier to pinpoint the individual compounds in cocoa responsible for the benefit. It will likely change the way scientists explore the health-promoting benefits of many plant-based foods.

Published in Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry(1), this new technology identifies and isolates the specific compounds in cocoa flavanols (or procyanidins) using a diol stationary phase. This new diol method is more environmentally friendly, more robust and more precise. The new technology was developed by scientists in the Analytical and Applied Sciences Group at Mars, Incorporated. The current method to analyze for cocoa flavanols was also developed by Mars in 1999.

In the past, scientists have settled for general antioxidant measurements that are non-specific and can not accurately analyze compounds like cocoa flavanols.

“Scientists can now stop estimating cocoa flavanol content using antioxidant capacity methodologies that are inherently flawed and misleading to clinical researchers and health professionals,”according to co-author Harold H. Schmitz, chief science officer at Mars, Incorporated. “Mars is especially pleased to announce this next real leap in analytical technology because it will help link the specific molecules and their health benefits to the foods which contain them. Better tools like this will lead to better information which in turn will lead to better health.”

Mars, Incorporated scientists plan to continue developing this method to move it from the qualitative to quantitative stage to validate it.

(1) Kelm MA, Johnson JC, Robbins RJ, Hammerstone JF, Schmitz HH. High-performance liquid chromotagraphy separation and purification of cacao (theobroma cacao l.) procyanidins according to degree of polymerization using a diol stationary phase. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2006;54:1571-1576.