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Researchers Validate New, Transferable and Accessible Method to Quantify Flavanols and Procyanidins

Latest method developed by Mars, Incorporated and the University of California Davis represents the most advanced and accurate method of cocoa flavanol measurement 

February 3, 2020 – Building on over two decades of research, Mars and the University of California Davis have developed a new methodology to measure cocoa flavanols and procyanidins that is more accurate and more reliable than previous analytical approaches. The method, published in Food & Function, has been developed in partnership with Waters, the world's leading specialty measurement company and chromatography pioneer, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Dept. of Commerce (NIST).

This transferable methodology will support further research into the health effects of flavanols and procyanidins and will provide industry and regulators with much needed tools to allow reliable raw material and product testing to support and ensure the reliability of claims. This methodology could ultimately enable the consistent labeling of products, providing consumers with accurate information on cocoa flavanol content to enable informed purchasing decisions.

Flavanols and procyanidins are bioactive compounds naturally present in various foods including apples, blueberries, grapes, pears and cocoa. These compounds are being widely investigated for their health benefits. The forms of flavanols and procyanidins found in foods are unique to their type, with cocoa containing a distinct mixture of these compounds. Today, there is a strong and growing body of scientific evidence that demonstrates regular intake of the flavanols and procyanidins in cocoa can improve vascular function, as well as positively impact the health of the cardiovascular system. Research has also shown that regular intake of cocoa flavanols can improve cognitive function in healthy adults. 

Until now, the chemical complexity of flavanols and procyanidins, and the absence of analytical standards have prevented the development of methods that can measure flavanol and procyanidin content in a consistent way. This newly validated method harnesses cutting-edge High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) technology and a new calibration approach, dramatically reducing testing turn-around times and chemical waste.

Catherine Kwik-Uribe, Director, R&D-Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at Mars Edge said: “Since our first publication on cocoa flavanols two decades ago, we have continuously worked to advance methods of analysis. This new methodology leverages the latest advancements in analytical technologies to bring about a more accurate and robust method for the analysis of cocoa flavanols and procyanidins, which can be used across the industry.”

Catherine Rimmer, Natural Products Program Coordinator at NIST added: “We are excited by the opportunity to establish a public-private partnership for the development of a cocoa flavanol reference material. We hope that this project serves as a model for future collaborations that demonstrate government and industry can work together to help ensure that foods and dietary supplements are safe and of high quality.”

This study was published in Food & Function and is freely available on their website here:

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About Mars Edge

Mars Edge is a new segment of Mars, Incorporated dedicated to human health and wellness through targeted nutrition. It is set up to use the latest science, data and technology to create easy, enjoyable and tailored nutrition solutions. It offers evidence-based products for wider groups of people with shared nutritional and health needs, delivered by brands such as COCOAVIA®, and is creating a business in personalized nutrition with FOODSPRING®. In doing so Mars Edge is partnering with start-up companies, academia and philanthropic organizations to bring ideas to life. Mars Edge's purpose is to contribute to better lives through nutrition.

About NIST 

NIST is a non-regulatory agency in the department of Commerce. NIST’s mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.