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Concept: Chocolate


Consumption of almonds or dark chocolate and cocoa has favorable effects on markers of coronary heart disease; however, the combined effects have not been evaluated in a well-controlled feeding study. The aim of this study was to examine the individual and combined effects of consumption of dark chocolate and cocoa and almonds on markers of coronary heart disease risk.

Concepts: Cancer, Nutrition, Heart, Physical exercise, Avicenna, Heart disease, Dieting, Chocolate


Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. Unfortunately, at present, chocolate products contain too much fat, leading to obesity. Although this issue was called into attention decades ago, no actual solution was found. To bypass this critical outstanding problem, two manufacturers introduced some low-calorie fats to substitute for cocoa butter. Somehow, their products are not allowed in most countries. Here we show that this issue is deeply related to the basic science of soft matter, especially to the viscosity of liquid suspension and maximally random jammed (MRJ) density. When the concentration of cocoa solid is high, close to the MRJ density, removing a small amount of fat will jam the chocolate flow. Applying unconventional electrorheology to liquid chocolate with applied field in the flow direction, we aggregate the cocoa particles into prolate spheroids in micrometers. This microstructure change breaks the rotational symmetry, reduces liquid chocolate’s viscosity along the flow direction, and increases its MRJ density significantly. Hence the fat level in chocolate can be effectively reduced. We are expecting a new class of healthier and tastier chocolate soon.

Concepts: Nutrition, Liquid, Soft matter, Fluid, Rotational symmetry, Chocolate, Cocoa butter, Cocoa solids


BACKGROUND: Theobromine, a methylxanthine related to caffeine and present in high levels in cocoa, may contribute to the appeal of chocolate. However, current evidence for this is limited. OBJECTIVES: We conducted a within-subjects placebo-controlled study of a wide range of oral theobromine doses (250, 500, and 1,000 mg) using an active control dose of caffeine (200 mg) in 80 healthy participants. RESULTS: Caffeine had the expected effects on mood including feelings of alertness and cardiovascular parameters. Theobromine responses differed according to dose; it showed limited subjective effects at 250 mg and negative mood effects at higher doses. It also dose-dependently increased heart rate. In secondary analyses, we also examined individual differences in the drug’s effects in relation to genes related to their target receptors, but few associations were detected. CONCLUSIONS: This study represents the highest dose of theobromine studied in humans. We conclude that theobromine at normal intake ranges may contribute to the positive effects of chocolate, but at higher intakes, effects become negative.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Caffeine, Chocolate, Cocoa bean, Xanthine, Theobromine, Theobroma cacao, Guarana


Cocoa butter is the pure butter extracted from cocoa beans and is a major ingredient in the chocolate industry. Global production of cocoa is in decline due to crop failure, diseases and ageing plantations, leading to price fluctuations and the necessity for the industry to find high quality cocoa butter alternatives. This study explored the potential of a wild mango (Mangifera sylvatica), an underutilised fruit in south-east Asia, as a new Cocoa Butter Alternative (CBA). Analyses showed that wild mango butter has a light coloured fat with a similar fatty acid profile (palmitic, stearic and oleic acid) and triglyceride profile (POP, SOS and POS) to cocoa butter. Thermal and physical properties are also similar to cocoa butter. Additionally, wild mango butter comprises 65% SOS (1, 3-distearoyl-2-oleoyl-glycerol) which indicates potential to become a Cocoa Butter Improver (an enhancement of CBA). It is concluded that these attractive properties of wild mango could be prompted by a coalition of policy makers, foresters, food industries and horticulturists to promote more widespread cultivation of this wild fruit species to realise the market opportunity.

Concepts: Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Fat, Oleic acid, Linoleic acid, Chocolate, Cocoa butter, Stearic acid


Chocolate consumption is anecdotally associated with an increase in happiness, but little experimental work has examined this effect. We combined a food type manipulation (chocolate vs. crackers) with a mindfulness manipulation (mindful consumption vs. non-mindful consumption) and examined the impact on positive mood. Participants (N = 258) were randomly assigned to eat a small portion (75 calories) of chocolate or a control food (crackers) in a mindful or non-mindful way. Participants who were instructed to mindfully eat chocolate had a greater increase in positive mood compared to participants who were instructed to eat chocolate non-mindfully or crackers either mindfully or non-mindfully. Additional analyses revealed that self-reported liking of the food partially mediated this effect. Chocolate appears to increase positive mood, but particularly when it is eaten mindfully.

Concepts: Eating, Mindfulness, Chocolate


Chemical analyses of organic residues in fragments of pottery from 18 sites in the US Southwest and Mexican Northwest reveal combinations of methylxanthines (caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline) indicative of stimulant drinks, probably concocted using either cacao or holly leaves and twigs. The results cover a time period from around A.D. 750-1400, and a spatial distribution from southern Colorado to northern Chihuahua. As with populations located throughout much of North and South America, groups in the US Southwest and Mexican Northwest likely consumed stimulant drinks in communal, ritual gatherings. The results have implications for economic and social relations among North American populations.

Concepts: United States, Caffeine, North America, Americas, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, New Mexico, Chocolate, Xanthine


This work reports an investigation carried out to assess the natural occurrence of ochratoxin A in 168 samples from different fractions obtained during the technological processing of cocoa (shell, nibs, liquor, butter, cake and cocoa powder) and the reduction of ochratoxin A during chocolate manufacture. Ochratoxin A analyses were performed with immunoaffinity columns and detection by high performance liquid chromatography. Concerning the natural ochratoxin A contamination in cocoa by-products, the highest levels of ochratoxin A were found in the shell, cocoa powder and cocoa cake. The cocoa butter was the least contaminated, showing that ochratoxin A seems to remain in the defatted cocoa solids. Under the technological conditions applied during the manufacture of chocolate in this study and the level of contamination present in the cocoa beans, this experiment demonstrated that 93.6% of ochratoxin A present in the beans was reduced during the chocolate producing.

Concepts: High performance liquid chromatography, Chocolate, Cocoa butter, Chocolate milk, Cocoa solids, Hot chocolate, Broma process, Chocolate liquor


The caffeine content of 124 products, including coffee, coffee-based beverages, energy drinks, tea, colas, yoghurt and chocolate, were determined using RP-HPLC with UV detection after solid-phase extraction. Highest concentrations of caffeine were found for coffee prepared from pads (755 mg l(-1)) and regular filtered coffee (659 mg l(-1)). The total caffeine content of coffee and chocolate-based beverages was between 15 mg l(-1) in chocolate milk and 448 mg l(-1) in canned ice coffee. For energy drinks the caffeine content varied in a range from 266 to 340 mg l(-1). Caffeine concentrations in tea and ice teas were between 13 and 183 mg l(-1). Coffee-flavoured yoghurts ranged from 33 to 48 mg kg(-1). The caffeine concentration in chocolate and chocolate bars was between 17 mg kg(-1) in whole milk chocolate and 551 mg kg(-1) in a chocolate with coffee filling. A caffeine assessment tool was developed and validated by a 3-day dietary record (r (2 )= 0.817, p < 0.01) using these analytical data and caffeine saliva concentrations (r (2 )= 0.427, p < 0.01).

Concepts: Milk, Coffee, Caffeine, Tea, Drink, Chocolate, Kefir, Chocolate milk


One may wonder why methylxanthines are so abundant in beverages used by humans for centuries, or in cola-drinks that have been heavily consumed since their appearance. It is likely that humans have stuck to any brew containing compounds with psychoactive properties, resulting in a better daily life, i.e., more efficient thinking, exploring, hunting, etc., however, without the serious side effects of drugs of abuse. The physiological effects of methylxanthines have been known for a long time and they are mainly mediated by the so-called adenosine receptors. Caffeine and theobromine are the most abundant methylxanthines in cacao and their physiological effects are notable. Their health-promoting benefits are so remarkable that chocolate is explored as a functional food. The consequences of adenosine receptor blockade by natural compounds present in cacao/chocolate are here reviewed. Palatability and health benefits of methylxanthines, in general, and theobromine, in particular, have further contributed to sustain one of the most innocuous and pleasant habits: chocolate consumption.

Concepts: Caffeine, Adenosine receptor, Phosphodiesterase inhibitor, Adenosine, Chocolate, Xanthine, Theobromine, Theophylline


Cocoa powder and chocolate contain numerous substances among which there is a quite large percentage of antioxidant molecules, mainly flavonoids, most abundantly found in the form of epicatechin. These substances display several beneficial actions on the brain. They enter the brain and induce widespread stimulation of brain perfusion. They also provoke angiogenesis, neurogenesis and changes in neuron morphology, mainly in regions involved in learning and memory. Epicatechin improves various aspects of cognition in animals and humans. Chocolate also induces positive effects on mood and is often consumed under emotional stress. In addition, flavonoids preserve cognitive abilities during ageing in rats, lower the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and decrease the risk of stroke in humans. In addition to their beneficial effects on the vascular system and on cerebral blood flow, flavonoids interact with signalization cascades involving protein and lipid kinases that lead to the inhibition of neuronal death by apoptosis induced by neurotoxicants such as oxygen radicals, and promote neuronal survival and synaptic plasticity. The present review intends to review the data available on the effects of cocoa and chocolate on brain health and cognitive abilities.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuron, Brain, Cognition, Neurology, Memory, Flavonoid, Chocolate