Cocoa powder increases postprandial insulinemia in lean young adults

Jennie Brand-Miller, Susanna H A Holt, Vanessa De Jong, Peter Petocz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


We hypothesized that chocolate products elicit higher insulin responses than matched products with alternate flavoring. To test this, we used a within-subject, repeated-measures comparison of six pairs of foods, one flavored with chocolate (cocoa powder) and the other not. Healthy subjects (n = 10, 4 men, 6 women) tested each pair of foods. Postprandial glucose and insulin levels were determined at intervals over 2 h using standardized glycemic index (GI) methodology. The product categories were chocolate bars, cakes, breakfast cereals, ice creams, flavored milks and puddings. Although the GI did not differ within each pair, the insulin index (11) of the chocolate product was always higher, by a mean of 28%, than the alternate flavored product (P < 0.001). The greatest difference occurred within the flavored milk category in which the chocolate version elicited 45% greater insulinemia than the strawberry flavored milk (P = 0.021). Macronutrient composition (fat, protein, sugar, fiber or energy density) accounted for nearly all of the variation in GI among the foods, but did not explain differences in insulinemia. The presence of cocoa powder in foods leads to greater postprandial insulin secretion than alternate flavorings. Specific insulinogenic amino acids or greater cephalic phase insulin release may explain the findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3149-3152
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Chocolate
  • Glycemic index
  • Postprandial hyperinsulinemia


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