Epicatechin is a compound found in chocolate which has important benefits for our health
The latest research reveals that it could play an important role in the physiological signalling related to muscle growth: inhibiting the synthesis of myostatin.
What is Epicatechin?
Epicatechin belongs to the phytochemical group known as flavonols. Moreover, it can be found in plants like green tea, but specially on dark chocolate.
It is a powerful antioxidant and precursor of Nitric Oxide (NO). In addition, it can increase the follistatin levels, which can reduce the myostatin levels
There are four types of flavonols (stereoisomers): (+)-epicatechin, (-)-epicatechin, (+)-catechin, (-)-catechin. When we process food, these elements can become one other. According to the USDA, dry cocoa powder has 196.37mg of (-)-epicatechin isomer. Other sources are green and black tea, red wine, ginger, beans and blackberries.
The importance of these isomers available in food lies in their different biological effects on our body. Thus, according to research, the form (-)-epicatechin has the highest bioavailability. That is why it can have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.
Flavonols can bind to other flavonols in order to form oligomeric flavonols known as procyanidins. These molecules can help us combat oxidative stress thanks to its neuroprotective and anti-aging properties. Therefore, they can slow down the aging process
Epicatechin and Muscle Growth
What is myostatin
Myostatin is a type of protein (myokine) that hinders muscle growth. According to research, epicatechin from chocolate could be a myostatin inhibitor.
The opposite to myostatin is a myokine called follistatin. In fact, this element stimulates the muscle growth indirectly by buffering the activity of myostatin. Consequently, epicatechin could enhance the follistatin release.
Study about Epicatechin
The study assessed the effects of taking epicatechin (-) in a group of subjects. Previously, the researchers performed an in vitro test followed by tests on mice:
- First of all, they extracted cells from people of different ages. The older the person, the higher the myostatin levels and the lower the follistatin ones are. Therefore, they confirmed said premise.
- Then, they measured the levels of both myokines again, both in young and old mice. The researchers used 1mg per kg of body weight twice a day. After two weeks, the young mice had a 15% less myostatin (without changes in follistatin). On the contrary, the old mice had a 18% less and 30% more follistatin.
- Back to the human group, they used 1mg of epicatechin per kg of body weight twice a day (around 150mg of epicatechin daily).
The results from the participants (sample of 6 subjects) confirmed that epicatechin increases the follistatin levels and reduces the myostatin ones. Moreover, the researchers also observed an increase in grip strength. There was no placebo group to establish a comparison.
Despite the limitations of the sample, the studies are promising. In fact, they confirm that there is a possible connection between epicatechin supplementation and a positive alteration of the follistatin/myostatin ratio.
The sarcopenia involves a loss of muscle mass as we age. Above all, this is due to the increase of the myostatin and β-galactosidase levels.
Thus, according to the studies,using epicatechin could be an effective way of buffering said process.
Benefits of Epicatechin for the Organism
This system is made up by the heart, arteries, veins, blood vessels and capillaries. Above all, it is in charge of keeping a constant and effective blood flow to transport nutrients, oxygen and carbon dioxide through the organism.
What is the endothelium?
It is a tissue that could be described as an internal layer on the blood vessels. Thus, a healthy artery should be able to dilate depending on the amount of blood that flows through it.
According to the studies, the flavonols from cocoa can improve the nitric oxide production to support the cardiovascular system
This substance released in our organism dilates the endothelium so that the blood vessels can carry more blood. In fact, a bad endothelial function results in a high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems that get worse as we age.
Its vasodilatory effect on the blood vessels can improve the circulation. In addition, our blood will be able to transport more nutrients and oxygen to any part of the body.
Flavonols and Nitric Oxide
Flavonols, like the ones found in pure cocoa, are chemical precursors of nitric oxide. All in all, this substance is essential for our cell health. According to the scientific literature, the epicatechin from cocoa can support the activity of the blood vessels that we previously described.
The vasodilation can lower the risk of stroke, regulate the blood pressure and combat hypertension
Glycemic Control and Insulin sensitivity
Epicatechin can also be an effective way of controlling the glycemia and improving the insulin sensitivity
Once our body absorbs it, it activates a metabolic signalling that involves insulin. Consequently, it enhances the absorption of glucose. All in all, this means that the organism will be more efficient when it comes to treating the blood glucose (less insulin resistance).
Cocoa extract supplementation increases the blood flow and improves the insulin sensitivity
In addition, epicatechin is involved in the NO production by stimulating the enzymes that produces it. Thus, the result will be a higher and efficient blood flow and nutrient supply to the muscle fibers.
Apart from lowering the blood pressure as well
To top it all, it also improves the use of insulin, particularly on the muscle tissue. Moreover, it can positively affect the athletic performance.
Dose of Epicatechin
The dose included in epicatechin supplements is way higher than the one used for the study. In general, supplements provide between 250-500mg of epicatechin, unlike the 150mg used for the studies.
Eating 50g of dark chocolate can provide around 75mg of epicatechin. That is why it is necessary and advisable to purchase 85% cocoa or higher.
Now that you know all this, do not use it as an excuse to eat a lot of chocolate. In fact, we suggest you eat a small amount, always making sure that it has a high purity %. Other products like chocolate milkshakes do not apply.
Where can we Buy Epicatechin?
- The formula of Evoepic Muscle has been designed by the Research and Development department from HSN. They have come up with a product that relies on two important ingredients. In fact, their combination results in a synergy that will improve the hormone environment.
- Thanks to the effect of Ashwagandha, we will lower the cortisol. This substance is the main agonist of the testosterone hormone that also weakens the immune system. In addition, this ingredient is important when it comes to regulating and increasing the testosterone levels.
- On the other hand, Epicatechin will inhibit the effect of myostatin which basically hinders the muscle growth.
- Does dark chocolate’s epicatechin content promote muscle growth?
- The Myostatin Inhibiting & Myogenic Effects of Epicatechin: Cacao & Tea Contain Well-Known But Overlooked Anabolic
- Enhancing Your Endothelial Nitric Oxide
- Cocoa flavanols: effects on vascular nitric oxide and blood pressure. César G. Fraga, María C. Litterio, Paula D. Prince, Valeria Calabró, Bárbara Piotrkowski, and Mónica Galleano
- Effects of (-)-epicatechin on molecular modulators of skeletal muscle growth and differentiation. Gutierrez-Salmean G, Ciaraldi TP, Nogueira L, Barboza J, Taub PR, Hogan MC, Henry RR, Meaney E, Villarreal F, Ceballos G, Ramirez-Sanchez I.
- Effect of dark chocolate on nitric oxide serum levels and blood pressure in prehypertension subjects. Sudarma V, Sukmaniah S, Siregar P.
- Epicatechin: endothelial function and blood pressure. Jiménez R, Duarte J, Perez-Vizcaino F.
- The Impact of Cocoa Flavanols on Cardiovascular Health. Vlachojannis J, Erne P, Zimmermann B, Chrubasik-Hausmann S.
- Therapeutic uses of epicatechin in diabetes and cancer. Layth Abdulmajeed Abdulkhaleq, Mohammed Abdulrazzaq Assi, Mohd Hezmee Mohd Noor, Rasedee Abdullah, Mohd Zamri Saad, and Yun Hin Taufiq-Yap