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Cocoa Composition and Benefits

Chocolate is produced from cacao beans and the process includes fermentation, drying, roasting, refining and other steps to ensure its stability and flavour.

cocoa nutrition

The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao L., means ‘Food of Gods’.

Chocolate contains mostly fat (in the form of cacao butter) and is rich in polyphenols, such as catechins, anthocyanidins, and pro anthocyanidins. The polyphenol content varies from chocolate to chocolate depending on the different cocoa cultivars, growing conditions, geographic areas, and processing steps.

Interesting Fact: In plants, phenolic compounds are involved in antioxidant activity, protection from environmental stressors such as UV radiation, microbial and fungal infection, and accordingly aiding the plant development
Cocoa Benefits

Consumption of cocoa and its products has said to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders, enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria, reduce blood pressure, positively affect the immune and nervous systems, prevent the risk of cancer, and show systemic and intestinal anti-inflammatory activities. There are are many studies regarding cocoa and its benefits but we must consider that literature results about this topic are inconsistent. Yet a more reliable result is that cocoa can reduce triglycerides levels which are possible contributors of cardiovascular risk


Cocoa, the basic ingredient in chocolate, contains a significant amount of fat (40–50% as cocoa butter, with approximately 33% oleic acid, 25% palmitic acid, and 33% stearic acid). It also contains polyphenols, which constitute about 10% of a whole bean’s dry weight.

However, the bitterness caused by polyphenols makes unprocessed cocoa beans rather unpalatable. Manufacturers have, therefore, developed processing techniques for eliminating the bitterness. Such processes decrease the polyphenol content by up to 10-fold:

The nitrogenous compounds of cocoa include both proteins and methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine). Cocoa is also rich in minerals: potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium

Nutritional Values per 100 gr of cocoa, dark and milk chocolate

Chemical Composition


Dark Chocolate

Milk Chocolate

Protein (gr)




Lipid (gr)




Carbohydrate (gr)




Sugar (gr)




Energy (Kcal)




It is  difficult to say exactly how much cocoa or dark chocolate to consume per day to get the desired benefits. Amounts of the order of 10 grams of dark chocolate per day or 3-4 grams of cocoa powder are mentioned, i.e. about 1 teaspoon, but again we cannot say for sure and of course the amount of ingredients such as polyphenols is a key parameter.

What I suggest is not the irrational consumption of these products but their inclusion in a balanced diet.



  • Replace your chocolate with dark chocolate

  • Consume cocoa drink now and then

  • You can add cocoa powder to make great snacks (e.g. cocoa with banana in the blender and you make a great cream)

cocoa and nutrition


  • Tan TYC, Lim XY, Yeo JHH, Lee SWH, Lai NM. The Health Effects of Chocolate and Cocoa: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2021 Aug 24;13(9):2909. doi: 10.3390/nu13092909. PMID: 34578786; PMCID: PMC8470865.

  • Zimmermann BF, Ellinger S. Cocoa, Chocolate, and Human Health. Nutrients. 2020 Mar 5;12(3):698. doi: 10.3390/nu12030698. PMID: 32151002; PMCID: PMC7146487.

  • Sorrenti V, Ali S, Mancin L, Davinelli S, Paoli A, Scapagnini G. Cocoa Polyphenols and Gut Microbiota Interplay: Bioavailability, Prebiotic Effect, and Impact on Human Health. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 27;12(7):1908. doi: 10.3390/nu12071908. PMID: 32605083; PMCID: PMC7400387

  • Montagna MT, Diella G, Triggiano F, Caponio GR, De Giglio O, Caggiano G, Di Ciaula A, Portincasa P. Chocolate, "Food of the Gods": History, Science, and Human Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 6;16(24):4960. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16244960. PMID: 31817669; PMCID: PMC6950163.


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