Cocoa and heart health: a historical review of the science

Nutrients. 2013 Sep 26;5(10):3854-70. doi: 10.3390/nu5103854.


The medicinal use of cocoa has a long history dating back almost five hundred years when Hernán Cortés's first experienced the drink in Mesoamerica. Doctors in Europe recommended the beverage to patients in the 1700s, and later American physicians followed suit and prescribed the drink in early America--ca. 1800s. This article delineates the historic trajectory of cocoa consumption, the linkage between cocoa's bioactive-mechanistic properties, paying special attention to nitric oxides role in vasodilation of the arteries, to the current indicators purporting the benefits of cocoa and cardiovascular health.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Beverages
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Cacao / history*
  • Candy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism*
  • Flavonoids
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Nitric Oxide


  • Flavonoids
  • Nitric Oxide