Polyphenols play an important role in human health. To address their accessibility to a breastfed infant, we planned to evaluate whether breast milk (BM) (colostrum, transitional, and mature) epicatechin metabolites could be related to the dietary habits of mothers. The polyphenol consumption of breastfeeding mothers was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire and 24 h recalls. Solid-phase extraction-ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (SPE-UPLC-MS/MS) was applied for direct epicatechin metabolite analysis. Their bioavailability in BM as a result of dietary ingestion was confirmed in a preliminary experiment with a single dose of dark chocolate. Several host and microbial phase II metabolites of epicatechin were detected in BM among free-living lactating mothers. Interestingly, a modest correlation between dihydroxyvalerolactone sulfate and the intake of cocoa products was observed. Although a very low percentage of dietary polyphenols is excreted in BM, they are definitely in the diet of breastfed infants. Therefore, evaluation of their role in infant health could be further promoted.
Keywords: breastfeeding; cocoa; dietary polyphenols; epicatechin host and microbiota metabolites; human breast milk.