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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Facts about Chocolate and Health

  • Cocoa is rich in polyphenols, similar to those found in green tea, and as polyphenols have been shown to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, stroke, myocardial infarction but also diabetes

  • For cocoa, the terms that are used to describe the particular compounds of interest are flavanols. Flavanols are a subclass of flavonoids which are, in turn, a subclass of polyphenols

  • Cocoa is the non-fat component of cocoa liquor (finely ground cocoa beans) which is used in chocolate making or as cocoa powder (commonly 12 % fat) for cooking and drinks

  • Chocolate refers to the combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, etc. into a solid food product

  • In Europe, 58 % of people ate milk chocolate, closely followed by dark chocolate (43 %)

  • Cocoa taken as a beverage is popular in Spain

  • There were two human trials with interventions using cocoa published in 2001, three in 2002, five in 2003, three in 2004, six in 2005 and five in 2006 (one so far in 2007). More often than not, the studies yield at least one positive and significant result

  • The research is predominantly focused on effects on the vascular system, however, there are other areas of research on man in vivo which are not so extensively investigated, such as those concerned with cognition, cancer and diabetes

  • The mechanism of action of cocoa polyphenols including clinical, pre-clinical and in vitro studies consistently show changes in biomarkers related to oxidative status and/or vascular function

  • High cocoa content dark chocolate tends to be richest in polyphenols, although each chocolate is different in polyphenol content

  • For future research:

    • Where possible, conduct randomised, controlled, cross-over, multi-dose trials

    • Use well-defined cocoa or chocolate

    • Use an appropriate control of no-polyphenol chocolate

    • Recruit volunteers with at least one non-optimal biomarker or disease risk factor
Cooper, K.A., Donovan, J.L., Waterhouse, A.L., Williamson, G. (2008). Cocoa and health: a decade of research. British Journal of Nutrition, 99(01) DOI: 10.1017/S0007114507795296

1 comment:

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