Flavan-3-ols and methylxanthines have potential beneficial effects on human health including reducing cardiovascular risk. We performed a randomized controlled cross-over intervention trial to assess the acute effects of consumption of flavan-3-ol-enriched dark chocolate, compared with standard dark chocolate and white chocolate, on the human metabolome. We assessed the metabolome in urine and blood plasma samples collected before and at 2 h and 6 h after consumption of chocolates in 42 healthy volunteers using a non-targeted metabolomics approach. Plasma samples were assessed and showed differentiation between time points with no further separation among the three chocolate treatments. Multivariate statistics applied to urine samples could readily separate the postprandial time points and distinguish between the treatments. Most of the markers responsible for the multivariate discrimination between the chocolates were of dietary origin. Interestingly, small but significant level changes were also observed for a subset of endogenous metabolites. 1H NMR revealed that flavan-3-ol-enriched dark chocolate and standard dark chocolate reduced urinary levels of creatinine, lactate, some amino acids and related degradation products and increased the levels of pyruvate and 4-hydroxyphenylacetate, a phenolic compound of bacterial origin. This study demonstrates that an acute chocolate intervention can significantly affect human metabolism.
- Journal Article