Epicatechin is a bioactive compound classed as a flavonol,
a plant based phytochemical which is found in a number of foods in trace amounts, including green tea and most famously, dark chocolate.
While differing food sources contain different amounts of epicatechin, dark chocolate contains the most, and the darker the better with pure cocoa containing the highest amounts of all at nearly 3mg per gram.
Epicatechin has been the subject of several studies that have uncovered a host of physiological benefits, including:
- Enhancing muscle growth and strength naturally via a novel pathway
- Increasing nitric oxide production for improved vascularity, blood flow and endurance
- Improving insulin sensitivity, regulating blood sugar levels and stimulating muscle protein synthesis
- Lowering cholesterol levels due to its natural antioxidant properties
- Improving brain and heart health
Epicatechin is a strong antioxidant, has insulin mimic action and improves heart health. Dr. Norman Hollenberg of Harvard Medical School found that Kuna indians, who live on the San Blas Island Chain in Panama and drink high quantities of cocoa drinks, have a lower risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes compored to the Indians living on the mainland. Dr. Norman Hollenberg even suggests to consider epicatechin as a vitamin.
Attenuation of diabetes
Studies show that epicatechin and other flavonoids exert a protective role on osmotic fragility of cells, similar to that of insulin. The mechanism of action of epicatechin is different to that of insulin and remains speculative. In diabetic red blood cells epicatechin causes an increase in acetylcholinesterase activity. This activity is significantly lower in type 2 diabetic patients.
Epicatechin reduces lipid peroxidation and inhibits platelet aggregation. Epicatechin cause blood vessel dilation by regulating nitric oxide, a molecule secreted by the blood vessel endothelium to signal surrounding muscle to relax.
#FACTS Flavonoids are plant pigments. , an amazing array of over 6,000 different substances found in virtually all plants, are responsible for many of the plant colors that dazzle us with their brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red.
There are a number of different categories of flavonoids including: flavonols, dihydroflavonols, flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, anthocyanins, and anthocyanidins. Within each of these groups fall hundreds, and sometimes thousands of different flavonoids.