Epicatechin, procyanidins, cocoa, and appetite: a randomized controlled trial

Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Sep;104(3):613-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.129783. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


Background: In 2 randomized controlled trials, it was reported that dark chocolate acutely decreased appetite in human subjects, but the authors did not assess the types or concentrations of cocoa compounds that are needed. Other studies have suggested that the cocoa compounds epicatechin and procyanidins may be involved.

Objective: We sought to test the hypotheses that, compared with placebo (an alkalized cocoa mixture containing essentially no epicatechin or procyanidins), the following beverages cause a decrease in appetite: 1) a nonalkalized cocoa mixture; 2) epicatechin plus placebo; and 3) procyanidins plus placebo. We measured the concentrations of cocoa compounds in all beverages.

Design: We used a 4-way randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled trial that was balanced for period and carryover effects in 28 healthy, young-adult men. We also conducted a smaller (n = 14), parallel, secondary randomized trial in which we explored the effects of higher doses of epicatechin and procyanidins. Our primary measure of appetite was ad libitum pizza intake 150 min after beverage ingestion. We used a linear mixed-model analysis.

Results: Intakes of beverages with the nonalkalized cocoa mixture that contained 0.6 mg epicatechin, 0.2 mg catechin, and 2.9 mg monomer-decamer procyanidins/kg body weight did not decrease pizza intake significantly (P = 0.29) compared with intake of the placebo. In the smaller secondary trial, a combination of epicatechin and the nonalkalized cocoa mixture that contained 1.6 mg epicatechin/kg body weight significantly decreased pizza intake by 18.7% (P = 0.04).

Conclusions: Our nonalkalized cocoa mixture was associated with an acute decrease in food intake only after being supplemented with epicatechin. It is possible that epicatechin at a dose of >1.6 mg/kg body weight, alone or in concert with appropriate catalytic cocoa compounds, may be useful for helping people control their food intakes. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02408289.

Keywords: appetite; cocoa compounds; epicatechin; food intake; procyanidins; visual analog scales; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appetite Depressants / administration & dosage*
  • Appetite Depressants / analysis
  • Appetite Regulation*
  • Beverages*
  • Catechin / administration & dosage*
  • Catechin / analysis
  • Chocolate* / analysis
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake*
  • Fast Foods
  • Food Handling
  • Foods, Specialized / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Proanthocyanidins / administration & dosage*
  • Proanthocyanidins / analysis
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Young Adult


  • Appetite Depressants
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Catechin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02408289