Cardiovascular Benefits of Dark Chocolate?

  • Erin Higginbotham
  • Pam R. TaubEmail author
Prevention (L Sperling and D Gaita, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Prevention

Opinion statement

The use of cacao for health benefits dates back at least 3000 years. Our understanding of cacao has evolved with modern science. It is now felt based on extensive research the main health benefits of cacao stem from epicatechin, a flavanol found in cacao. The process of manufacturing dark chocolate retains epicatechin, whereas milk chocolate does not contain significant amounts of epicatechin. Thus, most of the current research studies are focused on dark chocolate. Both epidemiological and clinical studies suggest a beneficial effect of dark chocolate on blood pressure, lipids, and inflammation. Proposed mechanisms underlying these benefits include enhanced nitric oxide bioavailability and improved mitochondrial structure/function. Ultimately, further studies of this promising compound are needed to elucidate its potential for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases as well as other diseases that have underlying mechanisms of mitochondrial dysfunction and nitric oxide deficiency.


Dark chocolate Cocoa Epicatechin Flavanols Mitochondria Skeletal muscle 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Erin Higginbotham declares no potential conflicts of interest.

Pam R. Taub reports equity from Cardero Therapeutics and has an issued patent (US 8,648,059).

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern California, Keck School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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