Cocoa flavanols - measurement, bioavailability and bioactivity.
There has been growing interest in the potential cardiovascular benefits associated with cocoaconsumption. As a result of accurate analytical methodologies, there is evidence to support that theflavanols in cocoa can be absorbed, are bioactive, and may be responsible for the cardiovascular benefits associated with regular cocoa consumption. The flavanols in cocoa exist in a multitude of different stereochemical configurations, thus giving rise to a unique and complex mixture of compounds. Given this complexity, the quantitative analysis of cocoa flavanols in foods can be challenging. While there are published methods suitable for the analysis of these compounds, these methods require sophisticated instrumentation and can be challenging to set up. As such, simpler techniques that measure such things as total phenolic content or antioxidant potential have been used as indicators of flavanol content. However, as these simpler assays are prone to interferences and are not specific for flavanols, these methods are not appropriate for use in studies that aim to examine the physiological effects of cocoa flavanols. It is only through the use of methods that can accurately quantify these flavanols that it will be possible to make meaningful dietary recommendations regarding the consumption of cocoa flavanol containing foods.
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