August 04, 2011
Chocolate Compound Epicatechin Boosts Exercise Benefit

Beware of well-read mice trying to get into your chocolate stash. Mice given daily doses of epicatechin, a compound found in chocolate, who were given light exercise for a couple of weeks while receiving epicatechin easily surpasses mice that did not get epicatechin.

By and large, the animals that had been drinking water were the first to give out during the treadmill test. They became exhausted more quickly than the animals that had received epicatechin. Even the control mice that had lightly exercised grew tired more quickly than the nonexercising mice that had been given epicatechin. The fittest rodents, however, were those that had combined epicatechin and exercise. They covered about 50 percent more distance than the control animals.

A sixth of an ounce of dark chocolate per day will provide you with a similar dose. Eat some dark chocolate (not the nearly worthless milk chocolate) and take a long walk.

Click thru and read the details. If you are going to eat something that tastes good you might as well make it something that is also good for you.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 August 04 10:28 AM  Aging Diet Heart Studies

Phillep Harding said at August 4, 2011 11:46 AM:

One sixth of an ounce barely makes one lick of the candy wrapper. What a disappointment.

Brett Bellmore said at August 4, 2011 5:31 PM:

What, you'd prefer that it require enough chocolate to choke to death on, and destroy your wallet? I'm going to get some dark chocolate, and start eating it every morning.

Anyway, put two and two together: Processing destroys almost all of the epicatechin in chocolate. That means you'd have to eat a lot more milk chocolate to get the epicatechin in a sixth of an ounce of unprocessed dark chocolate. So you can get your exercise booster in the proper dose, and eat a lot of chocolate, simply by eating the more processed chocolate.

Or just pop a cocoa bean a couple times a day.

Anyway, they're infuriatingly vague about the actual amount of epicatechin the mice received, and the study is behind a steep paywall.

Tom Armstrong said at August 5, 2011 10:37 AM:

"A sixth of an ounce of dark chocolate per way"

Per way? Once again in English please...

bryane said at August 5, 2011 10:57 AM:

A sixth of an ounce of dark chocolate per DAY. One character off.

Ike Jakson said at August 6, 2011 4:05 AM:

Who needs exercise if he has the chocolates?

Engineer Dad said at August 6, 2011 4:05 PM:

Anyway, they're infuriatingly vague about the actual amount of epicatechin the mice received, and the study is behind a steep paywall.

You should use PubMed, I find it very helpful.

Nogueira L, Ramirez-Sanchez I, Perkins GA, Murphy A, Taub PR, Ceballos G, Villarreal FJ, Hogan MC, Malek MH.

University of California, San Diego;

The flavanol (-)-epicatechin, a component of cacao (cocoa), has been shown to have multiple health benefits in humans. Using one year old male mice we examined the effects of 15 days of (-)-epicatechin treatment and regular exercise on: 1) exercise performance; 2) muscle fatigue; 3) capillarity; and 4) mitochondrial biogenesis in mouse hindlimb and heart muscles. Twenty-five male mice (C57BL/6N) were randomized into four groups: 1) water; 2) water-exercise (W Ex); 3) (-)- epicatechin ((-)-Epi); and 4) (-)-epicatechin-exercise ((-)-Epi Ex). Animals received 1 mg•kg 1 of (-)-epicatechin or water (vehicle) via oral gavage (twice daily). Exercise groups underwent 15 days of treadmill exercise. Significant increases in treadmill performance (≈50%) and enhanced in situ muscle fatigue resistance (≈30%) were observed with (-)-epicatechin. Component of oxidative phosphorylation complexes, mitofilin, porin, and Tfam as well as mitochondrial volume and cristae abundance were significantly higher with (-)-epicatechin treatment for hindlimb and cardiac muscles than exercise alone. In addition, there were significant increases in skeletal muscle capillarity. The combination of (-)-epicatechin and exercise resulted in further increases in oxidative phosphorylation complexes proteins, mitofilin, porin, and capillarity than (-)-epicatechin alone. These findings indicate that (-)-epicatechin alone or in combination with exercise induces an integrated response that includes structural and metabolic changes in skeletal and cardiac muscles resulting in greater endurance capacity. These results, therefore, warrant the further evaluation of the underlying mechanism of action of (-)-epicatechin and its potential clinical application as an exercise mimetic.


It can be purchased, unfortunately it is not cheap.
02547-84 (-)-Epicatechin [(-)-EC] $88.00 for 10 mg

Question: How much Epicatechin is contained in cocoa beans?

Wolf-Dog said at August 6, 2011 6:27 PM:

In any case it it better to consume unprocessed raw cocoa powder than dark chocolate.

WJ said at August 6, 2011 10:41 PM:

Dark chocolate nuggets, like Hershey's Special Dark Miniatures, are ~8g per nugget, or somewhat more than the 5g advised by the study. Even at 2 per day, a bag would last you ca. 3 weeks. Tasty, and not a bad investment.

Brett Bellmore said at August 7, 2011 1:21 PM:

Cheaper, too.

"The epicatechin content of raw cocoa beans was in the range of 270 - 1235 mg/100 g cocoa beans."

At roughly $12 a pound, (Shopping around online.) and 0.2 to 1.2% epicatechin, you'd have to be mad to buy those pills, when you could just buy the beans, and pop one a couple times a day at a fraction of the cost. After all, it's not like cocoa beans are notably toxic in their natural state, so that the epicatechin really needs to be separated from them.

Any mention of whether they did a comparison between different doses? Looked for negative effects of an over-dose? Of course, extrapolating a human dose from a mouse dose is tricky in the best of cases; You're doing good if you get to within a factor of ten of the human appropriate dose, all you can do is get a suggestion for where you should start testing at for the humans.

I'm going to assume, based on the low toxicity of chocolate in humans, (Unless you've got some metabolic problems, you're going to choke on it before you poison yourself.) that you really don't have to worry about overdosing, and the researcher was just mad about people depleting his chocolate hoard.

Augustus said at August 8, 2011 11:46 AM:

The epicatechins are also available in green tea. They seem to have benefits in dealing with diabetes and heart failure.

Phillep Harding said at August 10, 2011 1:47 PM:

How odd. About green tea, that is. The marathon runners, etc, pay attention to their diets and performance, and they /should/ have picked up on any such link, unless the effect is masked by other factors in their diets perhaps?

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