Oligomeric cocoa procyanidins possess enhanced bioactivity compared to monomeric and polymeric cocoa procyanidins for preventing the development of obesity, insulin resistance, and impaired glucose tolerance during high-fat feeding
Flavanols are polyphenols that are known to have many beneficial effects on the body. Cocoa is a major source of these flavanols. However, research on the potential anti-obesity and anti-diabetic health benefits of cocoa flavanols is lacking in the literature. Furthermore, the effect that the size of these flavanols has on the extent of its beneficial properties is also unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the dietary effects of cocoa flavanols on the onset of obesity, insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance and to determine the impact that the size of these compounds has on the magnitude of this effect. Cocoa extract was fractionated into a monomer-, an oligomer-, and a polymer-rich fraction. Six groups (n=9) of C57BL/6J mice were fed either a control low-fat diet, a control high-fat diet, or a high-fat diet supplemented with 25 mg/kg*BW of cocoa extract or one of the three cocoa fractions. After 12 weeks on these diets, the oligomer-rich fraction proved to be most effective in preventing weight gain, fat mass accumulation, elevated fasting blood glucose and impaired glucose tolerance in diet-induced obese mice. This is the first long-term feeding study to examine the relative activities of cocoa constituents on diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance.