Cocoa and Chocolate Consumption - Are There Aphrodisiac and other Beneficial Implications on Human Health?

Emmanuel O Afoakwa


Cocoa and chocolate have been acclaimed for several years for their possible medicinal/health benefits but it is only recently that some of these claims are being more clearly identified and studied. Recent epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that dietary supplementation with flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate may exert a protective effect on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, which has been associated with a reduction in the risk of developing atherosclerosis. Some of the identified beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate include: antioxidant properties, reduction in blood pressure via the induction of nitric-oxide (NO) dependent vasodilation in men, improvement in endothelial function, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased platelet activation and function, as well as modulation of immune function and inflammation. Furthermore, chocolate has been reported to release phenylethylamine and serotonin into the human system, producing some aphrodisiac and mood lifting effects. Since these claims may possibly have implications on consumption levels of cocoa and chocolate products on the global market, understanding the critical factors involved and their potential beneficial effects are currently thought to be of great importance to consumers.


Key word: Cocoa, chocolate, aphrodisiac, flavanols, polyphenols, cardioprotection

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S Afr J Clin Nutr: ISSN (Print): 1607-0658, ISSN (Web): 2221-1268

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