Milk does not affect the bioavailability of cocoa powder flavonoid in healthy human

Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(6):493-8. doi: 10.1159/000111473. Epub 2007 Nov 21.


Background: The beneficial effects of cocoa polyphenols depend on the amount consumed, their bioavailability and the biological activities of the formed conjugates. The food matrix is one the factors than can affect their bioavailability, but previous studies have concluded rather contradictory results about the effect of milk on the bioavailability of polyphenols.

Aim: The objective was to evaluate the possible interaction of milk on the absorption of (-)-epicatechin ((-)-Ec) from cocoa powder in healthy humans.

Methods: 21 volunteers received three interventions in a randomized crossover design with a 1-week interval (250 ml of whole milk (M-c) (control), 40 g of cocoa powder dissolved in 250 ml of whole milk (CC-M), and 40 g of cocoa powder dissolved with 250 ml of water (CC-W)). Quantification of (-)-Ec in plasma was determined by LC-MS/MS analysis prior to a solid-phase extraction procedure.

Results: 2 h after the intake of the two cocoa beverages, (-)-Ec-glucuronide was the only (-)-Ec metabolite detected, showing a mean (SD) plasma concentration of 330.44 nmol/l (156.1) and 273.7 nmol/l (138.42) for CC-W and CC-M, respectively (p = 0.076).

Conclusion: Cocoa powder dissolved in milk as one of the most common ways of cocoa powder consumption seems to have a negative effect on the absorption of polyphenols; however, statistical analyses have shown that milk does not impair the bioavailability of polyphenols and thus their potential beneficial effect in chronic and degenerative disease prevention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Cacao*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Milk*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Flavonoids