Epicatechin is a naturally occurring flavanol found primarily in cocoa, dark chocolate, grapes, and teas made from the leaves of camellia sinensis. Green tea is most commonly associated with epicatechin because it has higher amounts of the polyphenol compared to black tea which is produced from unfermented leaves.
The highest concentrations of epicatechin, however, are found in dark chocolate. As a general rule of thumb, the more cocoa in the chocolate, the higher the levels of epicatechin it contains. One gram of pure, unprocessed cocoa has about 3 grams of epicatechin. Many people, however, choose to get their epicatechin in a more concentrated supplement form because pure cocoa is extremely bitter, and they’d prefer to avoid the added sugar and other fillers often found in processed dark chocolate.
Various studies have indicated that epicatechin is instrumental in treating a wide range of conditions, particularly those involving cardiovascular health. It reduces blood pressure, decreases levels of bad cholesterol, and helps regulate blood sugar. Because it has anti-inflammatory properties, epicatechin also fights conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, many cancers, and inflammatory diseases that affect the liver.
It also helps to inhibit production of a protein named myostatin, which acts on the autocrine function of muscles at the cellular level to limit a process known as myogenesis. Myogenesis promotes the growth and health of muscular tissue, and this makes epicatechin particularly appealing to those who are trying to increase muscle mass and build strength.
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