Antioxidant activity and polyphenol and procyanidin contents of selected commercially available cocoa-containing and chocolate products in the United States

J Agric Food Chem. 2006 May 31;54(11):4062-8. doi: 10.1021/jf060290o.


In the United States, commercially available foods, including cocoa and chocolate, are being marketed with statements referring to the level of antioxidant activity and polyphenols. For cocoa-containing foods, there has been no comprehensive survey of the content of these and other chemistries. A survey of cocoa and chocolate-containing products marketed in the United States was conducted to determine antioxidant activity and polyphenol and procyanidin contents. Commercially available samples consisted of the top market share products in each of the following six categories: natural cocoa, unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semisweet baking chips, milk chocolate, and chocolate syrup. Composite samples were characterized using four different methods: oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), vitamin C equivalence antioxidant capacity (VCEAC), total polyphenols, and procyanidins. All composite lots were further characterized for percent nonfat cocoa solids (NFCS) and percent fat. Natural cocoas had the highest levels of antioxidant activities, total polyphenols, and procyanidins followed by baking chocolates, dark chocolates and baking chips, and finally milk chocolate and syrups. The results showed a strong linear correlation between NFCS and ORAC (R (2) = 0.9849), total polyphenols (R (2) = 0.9793), and procyanidins (R (2) = 0.946), respectively. On the basis of principal component analysis, 81.4% of the sample set was associated with NFCS, antioxidant activity, total polyphenols, and procyanidins. The results indicated that, regardless of the product category, NFCS were the primary factor contributing to the level of cocoa antioxidants in the products tested. Results further suggested that differences in cocoa bean blends and processing, with the possible exception of Dutching, are minor factors in determining the level of antioxidants in commercially available cocoa-containing products in the United States.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Biflavonoids / analysis*
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Catechin / analysis*
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Polyphenols
  • Proanthocyanidins / analysis*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / chemistry
  • United States


  • Antioxidants
  • Biflavonoids
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • flavan-3-ol
  • procyanidin
  • Catechin
  • Ascorbic Acid