12 January - 20 June 2016

Compounds found in cocoa may protect against type 2 diabetes

Previous studies have suggested that a diet supplemented with cocoa or flavanols may be beneficial. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry by researchers from Brigham Young University has revealed that certain compounds found in cocoa can help the body release more insulin and respond to increased blood glucose better.

It is estimated that 415 million people worldwide are diabetic, with the majority suffering from type 2 diabetes.  Previous studies have suggested that a diet supplemented with cocoa or flavanols may be beneficial.  A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry by researchers from Brigham Young University has revealed that certain compounds found in cocoa can help the body release more insulin and respond to increased blood glucose better. The scientists state "a hallmark of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is β-cell dysfunction and the eventual of loss of functional β-cell mass. Beta;-cells in the pancreas maintain a normal level of sugar in the blood through glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. However, in T2D these cells “poorly controlled insulin secretion and ultimately β-cell death."

Previous research by collaborators Virginia Tech found that when rats were fed a high fat diet supplemented with the cocoa compound epicatechin monomers, the compound decreased the level of obesity in the animals and increased their ability to deal with increased blood glucose levels.

In this current study the Brigham Young University scientists investigated what happens at cellular levels in pancreatic β-cells in rats.  The scientists analysed NS-1 832/13-derived β-cells and primary rat islets which had been cultured with unfractionated cocoa (containing all compounds), cocoa extract fractionated high in monomeric catechin, oligomeric procyanidins or polymeric procyanidins at levels ranging from 0.75 to 25 µg/ml for 24 hours. They report that "an increase in glucose stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) vs the control was observed with 25 µg/ml (containing 820.4 nM catechin, 2637.1 nM epicatechin, and 1.9 nM epigallocatechin amongst others), for the monomeric fraction." However they report that insulin was decreased in cells treated with either cocoa extract, oligomeric and polymeric fractions.  Rowley et al. note that whilst the cocoa extract contains monomers, the oligomers and polymerics "appear to outweigh the effects."

Rowley et al. then investigated if mitochondrial respiration was responsible for GSIS.  The team found that the catechins increased mitochondrial respiration, making “them stronger” and increased the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a cells energy source, this in turn resulted in more insulin being produced.   

The team discuss their findings, reporting that monomeric flavanols have much greater oral bioavailability than oligomeric and polymeric, and suggest "great potential for translation from in vitro cell culture to in vivo efficacy in animals and humans." They state in a press release "these results will help us get closer to using these compounds more effectively in foods or supplements to maintain normal blood glucose control and potentially even delay or prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes."

RSSL can carry out simple flavonoid screens. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry