Consumption of cocoa, tea and coffee and risk of cardiovascular disease

Eur J Intern Med. 2012 Jan;23(1):15-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2011.07.014. Epub 2011 Aug 30.


Daily intake of an anti-thrombotic diet may offer a suitable and effective way of coronary artery disease (CAD) prevention. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, monounsaturated fat and fish, moderate alcohol consumption but poor in salt, saturated fat and simple sugars, plays an important role in protect against CAD. Chocolate, coffee and tea, unfairly not included in "traditional healthy food basket", have received much attention over the past few years, if for no other reason than they are consumed worldwide and are important dietary sources of polyphenols (flavonols and cathechins). Several in vitro and in vivo studies have tried to elucidate the role of these foods and a large amount of experimental studies clearly indicated a beneficial effect of polyphenols in influencing CAD. However, data from epidemiological studies are not conclusive. The blood pressure lowering effects and the anti-inflammatory activity of dark chocolate suggests its use as potential prophylactic and therapeutic agent, in particular considering that epidemiological studies suggest that dark chocolate is inversely associated with CAD. Although regular consumption of moderate quantities of coffee and (green) tea seems to be associated with a small protection against CAD, results from randomized clinical trials about their beneficial effects are less evident. As for other diffuse consumption habits, such as that of alcohol, moderation is the key word. In fact, both for coffee and chocolate, the optimal healthy effects on CAD have been observed to be associated with a moderate intake, while healthy outcomes vanish at heavy consumption.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cacao*
  • Candy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Coffee*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Tea*


  • Coffee
  • Tea