Brief Communication | Published:

Plasma antioxidants from chocolate

Nature volume 424, page 1013 (28 August 2003) | Download Citation



There is some speculation that dietary flavonoids from chocolate, in particular (−)epicatechin, may promote cardiovascular health as a result of direct antioxidant effects or through antithrombotic mechanisms1,2,3. Here we show that consumption of plain, dark chocolate (Fig. 1) results in an increase in both the total antioxidant capacity and the (−)epicatechin content of blood plasma, but that these effects are markedly reduced when the chocolate is consumed with milk or if milk is incorporated as milk chocolate. Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate in vivo and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate may offer its consumers health benefits the milk variety cannot match.

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Author information


  1. *Antioxidant Research Laboratory, Unit of Human Nutrition, National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, Via Ardeatina 546, 00178 Rome, Italy

    • Mauro Serafini
    • , Rossana Bugianesi
    • , Giuseppe Maiani
    • , Silvia Valtuena
    •  & Simone De Santis
  2. †Plant Products and Human Nutrition Group, Graham Kerr Building, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

    • Alan Crozier


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Mauro Serafini.

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