Chocolates for heart health

choco 1.JPGchoco.JPGCocoa and chocolate contain a large amount of antioxidants (flavinoids). Cocoa and dark chocolate may keep high blood pressure down and reduce the blood’s ability to clot, thus the risk of stroke and heart attacks may be reduced. The darker chocolate with the most concentrated cocoa will be the most beneficial. According to an Italian study, a small square (20 g) of dark (bittersweet) chocolate every three days is the ideal dose for cardiovascular benefits. Eating more does not provide additional benefits.

The nutrition values presented below are based on review of a selection of brands. Variations outside the given ranges can be expected. Numbers are % by weight, not % of daily value.

Ingredient Cocoa – low fat
(European type)
Cocoa – high fat
(Breakfast cocoa)
Unsweetened chocolate Bittersweet chocolate Semisweet chocolate and baking chocolate
Fat 10-15% 20-25% 45-55% 33-45% 20-35%
Carbohydrates 45-60% 45-60% 30-35% 20-50% 50-70%
Sugars 0-2% 0-2% 0-2% 13-45% 45-65%
Dietary fibers 20-35% 30-35% 15-20% 5-8% 3-8%
Protein 17-22% 15-20% 10-15% 5-10% 3-8%
Calories per oz ca 60 ca 90 140-150 150-160 130-160
Calories per 100 g ca 200 ca 300 470-500 500-550 450-550


Cocoa beans contain approximately 50% fat. It is primarily comprised of two saturated fatty acids (palmitic and stearic acids) and one mono-unsaturated acid (oleic acid). Cocoa butter and chocolate do not raise blood cholesterol. However, when consuming milk chocolate or lower grade chocolate where a part of the total fat content comes from milk fat or various other types of fat, the cholesterol level might be adversely affected.


The cacao bean contains quite a lot of carbohydrates, but most of it is starch, soluble dietary fibers, and insoluble dietary fibers. A very small proportion is simple sugars. Sugar is added during the manufacture of chocolate.


Cocoa beans contain polyphenols (similar to those found in wine) with antioxidant properties which are health beneficial. These compounds are called flavonoids and include catechins, epicatechins, and procyandins. The antioxidant flavinoids are found in the nonfat portions of the cocoa bean. The flavinoids also reduce the blood’s ability to clot and thus reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks.


Theobromine is a very mild stimulant with a mild diuretic action (increases the production of urine). Theobromine can be toxic to animals like dogs, cats, parrots and horses.


Cocoa beans contains a very low amount of caffeine, much less than found in coffee, tea and cola drinks.


Phenylethylamine is a slight antidepressant and stimulant similar to the body’s own dopamine and adrenaline.


Cocoa and chocolate can increase the level of serotonine in the brain. Serotonine levels are often decreased in people with depression and in those experiencing PMS symptoms.

Essential minerals

Cocoa beans are rich in a number of essential minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.


A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.

Evidence of chocolate’s heart-healthy powers is growing, but can the stuff really help with diabetes? Yes, according to new research.

Actually, it’s all related. Insulin sensitivity is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In the recent study, researchers found that subjects who ate 100 grams of chocolate daily (about one bar) had reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzymes.

The scientists, from the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the University of Warwick Medical School, the University of South Australia and the University of Maine, analyzed data from 1,153 people between the ages of 18 and 69 years who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg study. Their results were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

“Given the growing body of evidence, including our own study, cocoa-based products may represent an additional dietary recommendation to improve cardio-metabolic health; however, observational results need to be supported by robust trial evidence,” Saverio Stranges, MD, PhD, visiting academic at the University of Warwick Medical School and scientific director of the Department of Population Health at LIH, said in a university release.

“Potential applications of this knowledge include recommendations by healthcare professionals to encourage individuals to consume a wide range of phytochemical-rich foods, which can include dark chocolate in moderate amounts,” Stranges said. “However, it is important to differentiate between the natural product cocoa and the processed product chocolate, which is an energy-dense food.” Needless to say, processed, sugar-rich chocolate probably would not help with diabetes.

Dark chocolate with coconut butter and coconut sugar, anti-anxiety drug

  • Science now shows that chocolate may be good for you. Five chemical compounds contained in raw, unadulterated chocolate are highlighted to show exactly what they are and how they work.
  • First, antioxidant polyphenols that neutralize free radicals provide some of the most compelling aspects of eating chocolate because they can reduce processes associated with the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease and cancer.
  • Second, chocolate contains anandamide, named after the Sanscrit word for “bliss,” which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and anxiety.
  • The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate have been shown to produce higher levels of physical energy and mental alertness while, counter-intuitively, lowering blood pressure in women.
  • Chocolate’s heart-friendly properties may be due to the presence of epicatechins, antioxidants which are found in higher concentrations in darker and raw forms.
  • Studies showed that one-and-a-half ounces of dark chocolate a day for 2 weeks reduced stress hormone levels.


Theobromine in cocoa and carob products

In modern medicine, theobromine is used as a vasodilator (a blood vessel widener), a diuretic (urination aid), and heartstimulant.[1]

Theobromine increases urine production. Because of this diuretic effect, and its ability to dilate blood vessels, theobromine has been used to treat high blood pressure.[21] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that historic use of theobromine as a treatment for other circulatory problems including arteriosclerosis, certain vascular diseases, angina pectoris, and hypertension should be considered in future studies.[22]

Following its discovery in the late 19th century, theobromine was put to use by 1916, when it was recommended by the publication Principles of Medical Treatment as a treatment for edema (excessive liquid in parts of the body), syphilitic angina attacks, and degenerative angina.[23]

In the human body, theobromine levels are halved between 6–10 hours after consumption.[21]

Theobromine has also been used in birth defect experiments involving mice and rabbits. A decreased fetal weight was noted in rabbits following forced feeding, but not after other administration of theobromine. Birth defects were not seen in rats.[24] Possible future uses of theobromine in such fields as cancer prevention have been patented.[25]

Theobromine has also been shown to improve the microhardness of tooth enamel which could potentiality increase resistance to tooth decay.

Philippines Cacao

pi cacao

Microbiology of cocoa fermentation and its role in chocolate quality

The first stage of chocolate production consists of a natural, seven-day microbial fermentation of the pectinaceous pulp surrounding beans of the tree Theobroma cacao. There is a microbial succession of a wide range of yeasts, lactic-acid, and acetic-acid bacteria during which high temperatures of up to 50 degrees C and microbial products, such as ethanol, lactic acid, and acetic acid, kill the beans and cause production of flavor precursors. Over-fermentation leads to a rise in bacilli and filamentous fungi that can cause off-flavors.

The physiological roles of the predominant micro-organisms are now reasonably well understood and the crucial importance of a well-ordered microbial succession in cocoa aroma has been established. It has been possible to use a synthetic microbial cocktail inoculum of just 5 species, including members of the 3 principal groups, to mimic the natural fermentation process and yield good quality chocolate.

Reduction of the amount of pectin by physical or mechanical means can also lead to an improved fermentation in reduced time and the juice can be used as a high-value byproduct. To improve the quality of the processed beans, more research is needed on pectinase production by yeasts, better depulping, fermenter design, and the use of starter cultures.

Calling all cacao farmers in the Philippines, blend your cacao with coconut butter and coconut sugar and I will help you sell them. Email