A method for the analysis of flavanols in cocoa has been developed by researchers from Mars Botanical, a scientific division of the eponymous chocolate bar company Mars, Inc., and recently published in the Journal of AOAC International. Flavanols are a group of natural compounds particularly abundant in cocoa. Previous independent research has shown that foods rich in flavanols exert positive effects on the cardiovascular system, but investigations have shown that the distinct chemical structure of a specific flavanol influences its absorption, metabolism and, consequently, its ability to exert beneficial effects. The new method identifies and quantifies the distinct stereochemical forms of flavanols found in cocoa and chocolate products. "This newly validated method addresses important gaps in our knowledge. In particular, it helps improve our understanding of the impact of food processing on the flavanol content of foods," said Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe, an author of the study.