WHAT IS EPICATECHIN?
Epicatechin is one of the many flavan-3-ols that can be found in plant based foods and is part of the phytonutrient family (a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have multiple health benefits but are not considered essential to human health). In this article I will be providing a full overview of epicatechin.
WHEN WAS EPICATECHIN DISCOVERED?
Epicatechin and the other flavan-3-ols were first discovered and isolated in 1929 at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Japan by Dr Michiyo Tsujimura.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE EPICATECHIN?
Epicatechin is a very useful phytonutrient for people suffering from diabetes that also keeps the blood healthy and protects against various diseases. Dr Norman Hollenberg of the Harvard Medical School even goes as far as deeming this nutrient essential for human health and classing it as a vitamin. The list below outlines the main functions of epicatechin in the human body:
– Acting as an antioxidant and protecting the body against damaging free radicals (harmful by-products of oxygen based reactions).
– Boosting heart health (by relaxing the blood vessels and improving the flow of blood to and from the heart).
– Reducing blood glucose levels (by preventing the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates which would raise blood glucose levels).
– Treating diabetes (by acting in a similar way to insulin and allowing your body’s cells to take glucose from the blood).
Epicatechin may also have further health benefits but more research needs to be done to confirm these. The list below outlines these potential health benefits of epicatechin:
– Possibly improving insulin production and secretion in the pancreas (a study on rats showed significant improvements in insulin secretion after 40 days of epicatechin consumption).
– Possibly preventing cancer (based on an observation of the Kuna Indians who consume very high quantities of the epicatechin containing drink cocoa).
– Possibly preventing heart failure (based on an observation of the Kuna Indians who consume very high quantities of the epicatechin containing drink cocoa).
– Possibly preventing strokes (a loss of blood flow to the brain which results in the death of brain cells and brain damage) (based on an observation of the Kuna Indians who consume very high quantities of the epicatechin containing drink cocoa).
HOW MUCH EPICATECHIN DO YOU NEED?
Epicatechin is not considered essential for human health so no recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been established. However, studies on this nutrient have suggested that eating 45 grams (g) of dark chocolate per day (which contains 18.68 milligrams (mg) of epicatechin) can activate the health benefits listed above.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN EPICATECHIN?
Epicatechin can be found in many different foods with dark chocolate, red wine and tea being popular choices. Fruits are also an excellent source of this phytonutrient. The table below lists some of the best food sources:
|FOOD||MG OF EPICATECHIN PER 100G
|Red Delicious Apples||7.1|
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH EPICATECHIN?
Currently there are no reported overdose symptoms associated with epicatechin consumption.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH EPICATECHIN?
Epicatechin is not classed as an essential nutrient so there are no official reported deficiency symptoms. However, Dr Norman Hollenberg suggests that epicatechin may actually be an essential nutrient and that cancer, diabetes, heart failure and stroke could all be direct symptoms of epicatechin deficiency.
Whilst there is very little research currently available on epicatechin, the initial signs are very promising. It could massively benefit people suffering from diabetes and offer protection from other serious diseases. So start capitalising on these health benefits today and incorporate epicatechin into your diet.
A Dark Chocolate A Day Keeps The Doctor Away (WebMD)
Epicatechin (Diabetic Bar)
List of Phytochemicals in Food (Wikipedia)
What is Phytochemical? (Juicing For Health)
USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods