Cocoa and Human Health: From Head to Foot--A Review

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016;56(1):1-12. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2012.657921.


The cocoa, as part of the wonderful nature, provides the mankind a wide variety of valuable food products and health benefits. The most known and universally relished product derived from this fruit is chocolate, an amazing and unique food for the human nutrition with records of consumption of similar products dating to 1000 years BC. In fact, the cocoa is a complex food that includes over 300 different components. This review is designed to inform scientists, technicians, academicians, farmers, and interested communities of numerous studies that have been conducted worldwide to investigate the properties of various cocoa constituents, their relations to human health, and their potential role in the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions. The general population, for example in Brazil, despite being one of the major producers of cocoa, is poorly informed of the significant and beneficial properties of cocoa. The present review covers important topics linking cocoa to human health and show the state of the art of effect of cocoa in different systems that comprise the human body. The paper is organized based on the main human organ system and includes: cardiovascular/circulatory, neurological/nervous, oral health, endocrine, lymphatic and immunological, respiratory, reproductive, and dermatological systems. Scientific findings tend to confirm the historic designation of cocoa as "food of the Gods."

Keywords: Theobroma cocoa L; antioxidant; food; heart; immunology; neurology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Functional Food* / analysis
  • Humans
  • Seeds / chemistry*