The flavanol (-)-epicatechin, a component of cacao (cocoa), has been shown to have multiple health benefits in humans. Cocoa is one of the highest polyphenolcontaining foods, containing approximately 43.6 mg of flavonoids per gram. In addition, hot cocoa contains more antioxidants per cup than a serving of red wine or tea. Cocoa may lower LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of blood clots, increase blood flow to the arteries, lower high blood pressure, boost cognitive performance, and provide essential minerals such as calcium and potassium.

(-)-Epicatechin has recently been shown to have fat-burning effects as well. Researchers fed two groups of rats a highfat diet and supplemented cocoa in one group and an artificial cocoa in the other. After three weeks, the body and fatty-tissue weights were significantly lower in the rats fed the real cocoa.

New research reports that (-)-epicatechin may also reduce myostatin levels in older adults. Researchers examined changes in protein levels of growth factors in young versus old human skeletal muscle. In humans, markers of musclegrowth-inhibition increases, such as myostatin and -galactosidase, increased with aging, while growth factors such as follistatin, MyoD, and myogenin decreased. Treatment for seven days with (−)-epicatechin increased handgrip strength and also the ratio of anabolic growth factors and reduced myostatin levels. The researchers don’t know exactly how (-)-epicatechin reduces myostatin, but the common sources of (-)-epicatechin are cocoa and tea. So including these two common ingredients may have some anabolic activity in addition to many health benefits. – FLEX