Special Issue "Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Phytochemicals and Human Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2021) | Viewed by 31812

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Davide Grassi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università degli Studi dell'Aquila | Università dell'Aquila • Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, Italy
Interests: flavonoids; nutrition; nutraceuticals; very low-calorie ketogenic diets (VLCKD); cardiovascular prevention; metabolism
Prof. Dr. Giovanni Scapagnini
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Medicine and Health Sciences “V. Tiberio”, University of Molise, Via V. De Sanctis, s.n.c., 86100 Campobasso, Italy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The medical uses of cocoa beans are well described in human history. Numerous reports have focused on various health-beneficial effects associated with the consumption of cocoa. Accordingly, increasing epidemiological evidence supports the concept that regular dietary intake of cocoa rich in phenolic phytochemicals may reduce or delay the onset of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. Therefore, cocoa is continuously drawing attention due to growing scientific evidence suggesting its effects on health.

This Special Issue of Nutrients, entitled “Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health,” welcomes the submission of manuscripts either describing original research or reviewing scientific literature, including systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Papers should focus on the effects of cocoa flavonoids and cocoa products on the different aspects of the human health and their health-related benefits.

Dr. Davide Grassi
Prof. Giovanni Scapagnini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nutrients is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • flavonoids
  • cocoa
  • chocolate
  • Nutraceuticals
  • functional food
  • nutrition
  • cardiovascular prevention
  • health benefits

Published Papers (6 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Article
Short-Term Effects of Dark Chocolate on Retinal and Choriocapillaris Perfusion in Young, Healthy Subjects Using Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 664; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030664 - 29 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1458
Abstract
(1) Aim: Contrasting results have been published on the effect of dark chocolate on visual function. The aim of this study was to evaluate retinal and choriocapillaris perfusion, using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A), and visual function in healthy subjects following dark chocolate [...] Read more.
(1) Aim: Contrasting results have been published on the effect of dark chocolate on visual function. The aim of this study was to evaluate retinal and choriocapillaris perfusion, using optical coherence tomography angiography (OCT-A), and visual function in healthy subjects following dark chocolate ingestion. (2) Methods: This prospective randomized study was carried out on 18 healthy young subjects at the St. Andrea Hospital, Sapienza, University of Rome. Visual acuity assessment and a complete ophthalmologic examination were carried out at baseline. In session one, each subject was randomized to eat either a 100 g dark chocolate bar or a 100 g white chocolate bar. In session two, the opposite chocolate was given to each participant. OCT-A and best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) were performed before the chocolate was eaten and repeated 1, 2, and 3 h after that. Retinal vessel density and choriocapillaris flow area were assessed. (3) Results: 18 patients with a mean (SD) age of 26.3 (1.5) years were included. No significant differences between dark or white chocolate were found when evaluating foveal density (%), whole density (%), choriocapillaris flow area, and BCVA. (4) Conclusions: Dark chocolate did not result in significant changes in retinal perfusion and choriocapillaris flow area. However, given the results of other studies showing the positive effects of flavonoids on visual function, further studies are warranted using pure chocolate without other components such as caffeine that can potentially affect results. Furthermore, we cannot rule out the possible benefits of higher doses of flavonoids in dietary supplementation over a more extended period and in a larger patient population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Sub-Chronic Consumption of Dark Chocolate Enhances Cognitive Function and Releases Nerve Growth Factors: A Parallel-Group Randomized Trial
Nutrients 2019, 11(11), 2800; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112800 - 16 Nov 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 8542
Abstract
Previous research has shown that habitual chocolate intake is related to cognitive performance and that frequent chocolate consumption is significantly associated with improved memory. However, little is known about the effects of the subchronic consumption of dark chocolate (DC) on cognitive function and [...] Read more.
Previous research has shown that habitual chocolate intake is related to cognitive performance and that frequent chocolate consumption is significantly associated with improved memory. However, little is known about the effects of the subchronic consumption of dark chocolate (DC) on cognitive function and neurotrophins. Eighteen healthy young subjects (both sexes; 20–31 years old) were randomly divided into two groups: a DC intake group (n = 10) and a cacao-free white chocolate (WC) intake group (n = 8). The subjects then consumed chocolate daily for 30 days. Blood samples were taken to measure plasma levels of theobromine (a methylxanthine most often present in DC), nerve growth factor (NGF), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and to analyze hemodynamic parameters. Cognitive function was assessed using a modified Stroop color word test and digital cancellation test. Prefrontal cerebral blood flow was measured during the tests. DC consumption increased the NGF and theobromine levels in plasma, enhancing cognitive function performance in both tests. Interestingly, the DC-mediated enhancement of cognitive function was observed three weeks after the end of chocolate intake. WC consumption did not affect NGF and theobromine levels or cognitive performance. These results suggest that DC consumption has beneficial effects on human health by enhancing cognitive function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Review
Effect of Cocoa and Cocoa Products on Cognitive Performance in Young Adults
Nutrients 2020, 12(12), 3691; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123691 - 30 Nov 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3987
Abstract
Increasing evidence support a beneficial role of cocoa and cocoa products on human cognition, particularly in aging populations and patients at risk. However, thorough reviews on the efficacy of cocoa on brain processes in young adults do not exist precisely due to the [...] Read more.
Increasing evidence support a beneficial role of cocoa and cocoa products on human cognition, particularly in aging populations and patients at risk. However, thorough reviews on the efficacy of cocoa on brain processes in young adults do not exist precisely due to the limited number of studies in the matter. Thus, the aim of this study was to summarize the findings on the acute and chronic effects of cocoa administration on cognitive functions and brain health in young adults. Web of Science and PubMed databases were used to search for relevant trials. Human randomized controlled studies were selected according to PRISMA guidelines. Eleven intervention studies that involved a total of 366 participants investigating the role of cocoa on cognitive performance in children and young adults (average age ≤25 years old) were finally selected. Findings from individual studies confirm that acute and chronic cocoa intake have a positive effect on several cognitive outcomes. After acute consumption, these beneficial effects seem to be accompanied with an increase in cerebral blood flow or cerebral blood oxygenation. After chronic intake of cocoa flavanols in young adults, a better cognitive performance was found together with increased levels of neurotrophins. This systematic review further supports the beneficial effect of cocoa flavanols on cognitive function and neuroplasticity and indicates that such benefits are possible in early adulthood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Cocoa Polyphenols and Gut Microbiota Interplay: Bioavailability, Prebiotic Effect, and Impact on Human Health
Nutrients 2020, 12(7), 1908; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071908 - 27 Jun 2020
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 6646
Abstract
Cocoa and its products are rich sources of polyphenols such as flavanols. These compounds exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, accountable for cocoa health-promoting effects. However, cocoa polyphenols are poorly absorbed in the intestine, and most of them cannot reach the systemic circulation in [...] Read more.
Cocoa and its products are rich sources of polyphenols such as flavanols. These compounds exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, accountable for cocoa health-promoting effects. However, cocoa polyphenols are poorly absorbed in the intestine, and most of them cannot reach the systemic circulation in their natural forms. Instead, their secondary bioactive metabolites are bioavailable, enter the circulation, reach the target organs, and exhibit their activities. In fact, once reaching the intestine, cocoa polyphenols interact bidirectionally with the gut microbiota. These compounds can modulate the composition of the gut microbiota exerting prebiotic mechanisms. They enhance the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, while reducing the number of pathogenic ones, such as Clostridium perfringens. On the other hand, bioactive cocoa metabolites can enhance gut health, displaying anti-inflammatory activities, positively affecting immunity, and reducing the risk of various diseases. This review aims to summarize the available knowledge of the bidirectional interaction between cocoa polyphenols and gut microbiota with their various health outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Cocoa Bean Shell—A By-Product with Nutritional Properties and Biofunctional Potential
Nutrients 2020, 12(4), 1123; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041123 - 17 Apr 2020
Cited by 45 | Viewed by 4609
Abstract
Cocoa bean shells (CBS) are one of the main by-products from the transformation of cocoa beans, representing 10%‒17% of the total cocoa bean weight. Hence, their disposal could lead to environmental and economic issues. As CBS could be a source of nutrients and [...] Read more.
Cocoa bean shells (CBS) are one of the main by-products from the transformation of cocoa beans, representing 10%‒17% of the total cocoa bean weight. Hence, their disposal could lead to environmental and economic issues. As CBS could be a source of nutrients and interesting compounds, such as fiber (around 50% w/w), cocoa volatile compounds, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and a large spectrum of polyphenols, CBS may be a valuable ingredient/additive for innovative and functional foods. In fact, the valorization of food by-products within the frame of a circular economy is becoming crucial due to economic and environmental reasons. The aim of this review is to look over the chemical and nutritional composition of CBS and to revise the several uses that have been proposed in order to valorize this by-product for food, livestock feed, or industrial usages, but also for different medical applications. A special focus will be directed to studies that have reported the biofunctional potential of CBS for human health, such as antibacterial, antiviral, anticarcinogenic, antidiabetic, or neuroprotective activities, benefits for the cardiovascular system, or an anti-inflammatory capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
To Eat or Not to eat: A Review of the Relationship between Chocolate and Migraines
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 608; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030608 - 26 Feb 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 5429
Abstract
Migraine is a chronic disorder with episodic attacks, and patients with a migraine often report that certain factors can trigger their headache, with chocolate being the most popular type of food-based trigger. Many studies have suggested a link between chocolate and headaches; however, [...] Read more.
Migraine is a chronic disorder with episodic attacks, and patients with a migraine often report that certain factors can trigger their headache, with chocolate being the most popular type of food-based trigger. Many studies have suggested a link between chocolate and headaches; however, the underlying physiological mechanisms are unclear. As premonitory symptoms may herald migraine attacks, a question arises regarding whether eating chocolate before a headache is a consequence of a food craving or indeed a real trigger. Here, we aim to summarize the available evidence on the relationship between chocolate and migraines. All articles concerning this topic published up to January 2020 were retrieved by searching clinical databases, including EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed, and Google Scholar. All types of studies have been included. Here, we identify 25 studies investigating the prevalence of chocolate as a trigger factor in migraineurs. Three provocative studies have also evaluated if chocolate can trigger migraine attacks, comparing it to a placebo. Among them, in 23 studies, chocolate was found to be a migraine trigger in a small percentage of participants (ranging from 1.3 to 33), while all provocative studies have failed to find significant differences between migraine attacks induced by eating chocolate and a placebo. Overall, based on our review of the current literature, there is insufficient evidence that chocolate is a migraine trigger; thus, doctors should not make implicit recommendations to migraine patients to avoid it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop