Influence of chocolate matrix composition on cocoa flavan-3-ol bioaccessibility in vitro and bioavailability in humans

J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Oct 28;57(20):9418-26. doi: 10.1021/jf902919k.


Conflicting data exist regarding the influence of chocolate matrices on the bioavailability of epicatechin (EC) from cocoa. The objective of this study was to assess the bioavailability of EC from matrices varying in macronutrient composition and physical form. EC bioavailability was assessed from chocolate confections [reference dark chocolate (CDK), high sucrose (CHS), high milk protein (CMP)] and cocoa beverages [sucrose milk protein (BSMP), non-nutritive sweetener milk protein (BNMP)], in humans and in vitro. Six subjects consumed each product in a randomized crossover design, with serum EC concentrations monitored over 6 h post consumption. Areas under the serum concentration-time curve (AUC) were similar among chocolate matrices. However, AUCs were significantly increased for BSMP and BNMP (132 and 143 nM h) versus CMP (101 nM h). Peak serum concentrations (C(MAX)) were also increased for BSMP and BNMP (43 and 42 nM) compared to CDK and CMP (32 and 25 nM). Mean T(MAX) values were lower, although not statistically different, for beverages (0.9-1.1 h) versus confections (1.8-2.3 h), reflecting distinct shapes of the pharmacokinetic curves for beverages and confections. In vitro bioaccessibility and Caco-2 accumulation did not differ between treatments. These data suggest that bioavailability of cocoa flavan-3-ols is likely similar from typical commercial cocoa based foods and beverages, but that the physical form and sucrose content may influence T(MAX) and C(MAX).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Biological Availability
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Candy / analysis*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage
  • Flavonoids / blood
  • Flavonoids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Milk Proteins / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / blood
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacokinetics*
  • Young Adult


  • Flavonoids
  • Milk Proteins
  • Plant Extracts
  • flavan-3-ol