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  1. Sophie M Castle1,
  2. Elena Alañón Pardo1,
  3. Emily Norris2,
  4. Jeremy PE Spencer1
  1. 1Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, UK
  2. 2Nestlé Product Technology Centre, York, UK


Key evidence suggests (-)-epicatechin (EC) is the active flavanol responsible for an improved vascular response (measured by flow-mediated dilation; FMD) seen after ingestion of flavanol-rich cocoa. It is hypothesised that EC metabolites are able to improve nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability in the vascular endothelium, either through activation of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) and/ or inhibition NAPDPH oxidase. Most research in this area has focused on the effects of high-flavanol experimental foods (>1 mg/kg BW EC). Comparatively, milk chocolate contains a much lower level of EC (>10 mg per portion) that may infer a lesser vascular effect if assuming a linear dose-response, although the dose-dependency of EC is relatively unknown. Our previous study sought to investigate the vascular effect of 3 low-level doses of pure EC (0.1, 0.5 and 1 mg/kg BW). Vascular results have shown a significantly improved FMD response at 2 hours with 0.5 mg/kg BW dose. This ‘active’ dose will inform the current project.

This project aims to investigate the effect of a daily intake of (-)-epicatechin rich milk chocolate on vascular function in healthy males. A randomised, double-blind, controlled, crossover intervention using a EC-rich milk chocolate (40 mg EC per 10 g) and a control milk chocolate (<5 mg EC per 10 g) will take place over 6 weeks. Acute study days (Day 1 and Day 14 of both interventions) will measure FMD at various time-points (1, 2, 4, 6 hours) and human samples (plasma and urine) will also be collected for analysis of cardiovascular-related markers.


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