The objectives of the study were to test whether the bioactive compounds in the cocoa shells were efficacious against macrophages the inflammatory cells at eliminating or reducing the biomarkers of inflammation; said de Mejia, also a director of nutritional sciences.
A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois suggests that three of the phenolic compounds in cocoa bean shells have powerful effects on the fat and immune cellsin mice; potentially reversing the chronic inflammation and insulin resistance associated with obesity. Finding that cocoa shells contain high levels of three beneficial bioactive chemicals also found in cocoa; coffee and green tea protocatechuic acid; epicatechin and procyanidin B2.
Cells reversed by cocoa bean shells
By these compounds and testing its effects on white fat cells called adipocytes and immune cells called macrophages. Using computer modeling and bioinformatic techniques; study also examining the impact that each of the phenolics individually had on the cells.
Similar to batteries within cells that burn fat and glucose to generate energy; mitochondria can become damaged when high levels of fat; glucose and inflammation occur in the body; treating adipocytes with the aqueous extract or the three phenolic compounds individually; damaging mitochondria in the cells were repairing and less fat accumulated in the adipocytes, blocking inflammation and restoring the cells’ insulin sensitivity.
Growth of macrophages
When adipocytes accumulate too much fat, they promote the growth of macrophages. This initiates a toxic cycle in which the adipocytes and macrophages interact, emitting toxins that inflame fat tissue; this chronic inflammation impairs cells’ ability to take up glucose, leading to insulin resistance and possibly type 2 diabetes as glucose levels in the blood escalate.
Cocoa shells are a waste byproduct that’s generated when cocoa beans are roasted during chocolate production. About 700,000 tons of the shells are discarded annually, causing environmental contamination if not disposed of responsibly; In addition to providing cocoa producers with another potential revenue stream, processing the shells to extract the nutrients would reduce the environmental toxicants generated currently by cocoa shell waste.