Cocoa Polyphenols

Cocoa is highly biologically active. In fact, it’s more biologically active than practically anything else. Unprocessed cocoa beans have an approximately 80% polyphenol content! This high overall content of polyphenols delivers health benefits through different channels, blocking fat absorption, promoting healthy LDL/HDL cholesterol levels, and supporting overall cardiovascular health. Cocoa regulates nitric oxide metabolism, which is very significant for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. Cocoa has a very strong track record for improving vasodilation throughout the body. This effect is unique to the epicatechin polyphenols found in cocoa. Cocoa seems to bind within various cell membranes that block the access by cellular pollutants.


Harnessing the Benefits of Cocoa

Polyphenols are very fragile, and have limited absorption and bioavailability. Normal dark chocolate contain polyphenols that are poorly bioavailable. This means that the daily dose of  ordinary dark chocolate required to provide any noticeable benefit from cocoa can be as much as 100 grammes (a whole bar of chocolate), a caloric bomb of between 500 and 600 calories!!

Through its work in this area, CCT has developed and clinically tested a unique micellization technology that permits enhancement of the bioavailability of epicathechin polyphenols. When technologically processed and advanced using our patented method, cocoa polyphenol crystals in carotenoid micelles have been successfully proven to provide the desired biological effect in blood and tissues with a dose as small as 7.5 grams of chocolate.


Polyphenols are naturally bitter, and it’s all but impossible to remove this bitterness from their taste without killing them altogether. CCT embrace polyphenol bioavailability, so you can enjoy delicious products in a unique format of food supplements.


Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L., Sterculiaceae) is a widely-consumed food ingredient. Although typically found in high-fat, high-sugar foods such as chocolate, cocoa is rich in polyphenols, methylxanthines, and monounsaturated fatty acids.  Cocoa is a rich source of polyphenols, with levels reaching 12–18% by dry weight [2]. The polyphenol profile of cocoa beans varies based on different cultivars, and can be quite diverse, but the most abundant are flavanols. Flavanols or flavan-3-ols belong to a sub-class of flavonoids that is very commonly found in most plants. The primary polyphenols present in cocoa are monomeric ((−)epicatechin [EC] and (+)catechin) as well as oligomeric and polymeric (proanthocyanidin [PAC]) flavanols [1].



In addition to the functions noted above, animal studies have shown that flavanols and their metabolites can cross the blood–brain barrier, inducing beneficial effects on brain tissue and function (angio- and neurogenesis, changes in neuron morphology), stimulating widespread blood circulation in the brain, and thus having an impact on learning, memory, and cognition [3]. The most common flavanol found in cocoa, epicatechin, is rapidly absorbed in humans and is already detectable in blood plasma thirty minutes after intake. The epicatechin levels peak between two and three hours after intake, exhibiting a strong positive correlation with the dose of chocolate ingested [4]. Similarly, comprehensive experimental evidence has demonstrated that cocoa-derived monomeric ((–)-epicatechin and (+)-catechin) and dimeric flavanols reduce NF-jB activation, thus resulting in reduced IL2 production and oxidative burst [5]. There is also consistent data on the protection of LDL particles against oxidation by cocoa flavanols [6]. Cocoa was recognized for centuries for its delectable taste and proposed health benefits, perhaps just as wishful thinking for many people, but new research suggests that cocoa does indeed exert beneficial effects, mediated largely through its flavanol components [7].



[1] Y. Gu and J. D. Lambert, “Modulation of metabolic syndrome-related inflammation by cocoa,” Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, vol. 57. pp. 948–961, 2013.

[2] C. L. Hii, C. L. Law, S. Suzannah, Misnawi, and M. Cloke, “Polyphenols in cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.),” Asian J. Food Agro-Industry, vol. 2, pp. 702–722, 2009.

[3] A. N. Sokolov, M. A. Pavlova, S. Klosterhalfen, and P. Enck, “Chocolate and the brain: Neurobiological impact of cocoa flavanols on cognition and behavior,” Neuroscience and iobehavioral Reviews, vol. 37. pp. 2445–2453, 2013.

[4] M. Richelle, I. Tavazzi, M. Enslen, and E. A. Offord, “Plasma kinetics in man of epicatechin from black chocolate.,” Eur. J. Clin. Nutr., vol. 53, pp. 22–26, 1999.

[5] G. G. Mackenzie and P. I. Oteiza, “Modulation of transcription factor NF-kappaB in Hodgkin’s lymphoma cell lines: effect of (-)-epicatechin.,” Free Radic. Res., vol. 40, pp. 1086–1094, 2006.

[6] A. L. Waterhouse, J. R. Shirley, and J. L. Donovan, “Antioxidants in chocolate.,” Lancet, vol. 348. p. 834, 1996.

[7] R. Corti, A. J. Flammer, N. K. Hollenberg, and T. F. Luscher, “Cocoa ad cardiovascular health,” Circulation, vol. 119. pp. 1433–1441, 2009.