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      Effect of Cocoa and Its Flavonoids on Biomarkers of Inflammation: Studies of Cell Culture, Animals and Humans


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          Chronic inflammation has been identified as a necessary step to mediate atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease and as a relevant stage in the onset and progression of several types of cancer. Considerable attention has recently been focused on the identification of dietary bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory activities as an alternative natural source for prevention of inflammation-associated diseases. The remarkable capacity of cocoa flavanols as antioxidants, as well as to modulate signaling pathways involved in cellular processes, such as inflammation, metabolism and proliferation, has encouraged research on this type of polyphenols as useful bioactive compounds for nutritional prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Data from numerous studies suggest that cocoa and cocoa-derived flavanols can effectively modify the inflammatory process, and thus potentially provide a benefit to individuals with elevated risk factors for atherosclerosis/cardiovascular pathology and cancer. The present overview will focus on the most recent findings about the effects of cocoa, its main constituents and cocoa derivatives on selected biomarkers of the inflammatory process in cell culture, animal models and human cohorts.

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          Bioavailability and bioefficacy of polyphenols in humans. I. Review of 97 bioavailability studies.

          Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and evidence for their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases is emerging. Bioavailability differs greatly from one polyphenol to another, so that the most abundant polyphenols in our diet are not necessarily those leading to the highest concentrations of active metabolites in target tissues. Mean values for the maximal plasma concentration, the time to reach the maximal plasma concentration, the area under the plasma concentration-time curve, the elimination half-life, and the relative urinary excretion were calculated for 18 major polyphenols. We used data from 97 studies that investigated the kinetics and extent of polyphenol absorption among adults, after ingestion of a single dose of polyphenol provided as pure compound, plant extract, or whole food/beverage. The metabolites present in blood, resulting from digestive and hepatic activity, usually differ from the native compounds. The nature of the known metabolites is described when data are available. The plasma concentrations of total metabolites ranged from 0 to 4 mumol/L with an intake of 50 mg aglycone equivalents, and the relative urinary excretion ranged from 0.3% to 43% of the ingested dose, depending on the polyphenol. Gallic acid and isoflavones are the most well-absorbed polyphenols, followed by catechins, flavanones, and quercetin glucosides, but with different kinetics. The least well-absorbed polyphenols are the proanthocyanidins, the galloylated tea catechins, and the anthocyanins. Data are still too limited for assessment of hydroxycinnamic acids and other polyphenols. These data may be useful for the design and interpretation of intervention studies investigating the health effects of polyphenols.
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            Insights into the metabolism and microbial biotransformation of dietary flavan-3-ols and the bioactivity of their metabolites.

            Flavan-3-ols, occurring in monomeric, as well as in oligomeric and polymeric forms (also known as condensed tannins or proanthocyanidins), are among the most abundant and bioactive dietary polyphenols, but their in vivo health effects in humans may be limited because of their recognition as xenobiotics. Bioavailability of flavan-3-ols is largely influenced by their degree of polymerization; while monomers are readily absorbed in the small intestine, oligomers and polymers need to be biotransformed by the colonic microbiota before absorption. Therefore, phenolic metabolites, rather than the original high molecular weight compounds found in foods, may be responsible for the health effects derived from flavan-3-ol consumption. Flavan-3-ol phenolic metabolites differ in structure, amount and excretion site. Phase II or tissular metabolites derived from the small intestine and hepatic metabolism are presented as conjugated derivatives (glucuronic acid or sulfate esters, methyl ether, or their combined forms) of monomeric flavan-3-ols and are preferentially eliminated in the bile, whereas microbial metabolites are rather simple conjugated lactones and phenolic acids that are largely excreted in urine. Although the colon is seen as an important organ for the metabolism of flavan-3-ols, the microbial catabolic pathways of these compounds are still under consideration, partly due to the lack of identification of bacteria with such capacity. Studies performed with synthesized or isolated phase II conjugated metabolites have revealed that they could have an effect beyond their antioxidant properties, by interacting with signalling pathways implicated in important processes involved in the development of diseases, among other bioactivities. However, the biological properties of microbe-derived metabolites in their actual conjugated forms remain largely unknown. Currently, there is an increasing interest in their effects on intestinal infections, inflammatory intestinal diseases and overall gut health. The present review will give an insight into the metabolism and microbial biotransformation of flavan-3-ols, including tentative catabolic pathways and aspects related to the identification of bacteria with the ability to catabolize these kinds of polyphenols. Also, the in vitro bioactivities of phase II and microbial phenolic metabolites will be covered in detail.
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              Concentrations of proanthocyanidins in common foods and estimations of normal consumption.

              Proanthocyanidins (PAs) have been shown to have potential health benefits. However, no data exist concerning their dietary intake. Therefore, PAs in common and infant foods from the U.S. were analyzed. On the bases of our data and those from the USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) of 1994-1996, the mean daily intake of PAs in the U.S. population (>2 y old) was estimated to be 57.7 mg/person. Monomers, dimers, trimers, and those above trimers contribute 7.1, 11.2, 7.8, and 73.9% of total PAs, respectively. The major sources of PAs in the American diet are apples (32.0%), followed by chocolate (17.9%) and grapes (17.8%). The 2- to 5-y-old age group (68.2 mg/person) and men >60 y old (70.8 mg/person) consume more PAs daily than other groups because they consume more fruit. The daily intake of PAs for 4- to 6-mo-old and 6- to 10-mo-old infants was estimated to be 1.3 mg and 26.9 mg, respectively, based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. This study supports the concept that PAs account for a major fraction of the total flavonoids ingested in Western diets.

                Author and article information

                09 April 2016
                April 2016
                : 8
                : 4
                : 212
                [1 ]Departamento de Metabolismo y Nutrición; Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos y Nutrición (ICTAN – CSIC), José Antonio Novais, 10, Madrid 28040, Spain; amartina@ 123456ictan.csic.es (M.Á.M.); beasarria@ 123456ictan.csic.es (B.S.); s.ramos@ 123456ictan.csic.es (S.R.); raquel.mateos@ 123456ictan.csic.es (R.M.); lbravo@ 123456ictan.csic.es (L.B.)
                [2 ]Centro de Investigación Biomédica en red de Diabetes y Enfermedades Metabólicas Asociadas (ISCIII), Madrid 28029, Spain
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: luisgoya@ 123456ictan.csic.es ; Tel.: +34-91-549-23-00; Fax: +34-91-549-36-27
                © 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 24 February 2016
                : 06 April 2016

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                flavanols,chocolate,cardiovascular disease,colon cancer,colon inflammation,anti-inflammatory flavonoids,anti-inflammatory-polyphenols


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