Scientific name: Theobroma cacao
Chinese names: ke ke shu
Arabic names: الكاكاو (al cacaw)
Rain Forest names:
Approximate number of species known: 22
Common parts used: Seed
Height: 12 to 16 feet
Known Constituents: Seed contain 2% of theobromine and 40 to 60%of solid fat. The shells contain about 1% of theobromine, together with mucilage, etc.
Once considered by the Mayan civilzation to be the ‘food of the gods’ check.
The seed seems to help promote the release of serotonin and endorphins in the brain. A mood elevator it seems to help in cases of nervous exhaustion. Used to enhance cardiovascular health.
In some people it can cause headaches and stomach upsets.
Flavanol-rich cocoa products have been reported to lower blood pressure. It has been suggested that theobromine is partially responsible for this effect. A study tested whether consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa drinks with natural or added theobromine could lower peripheral and central blood pressure.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled 3-period crossover trial we assigned 42 healthy individuals with office blood pressure of 130 to 159 mm Hg/85 to 99 mm Hg and low added cardiovascular risk to a random treatment sequence of dairy drinks containing placebo, flavanol-rich cocoa with natural dose consisting of 106 mg of theobromine, or theobromine-enriched flavanol-rich cocoa with 979 mg of theobromine.
Treatment duration was 3 weeks with a 2-week washout. The primary outcome was the difference in 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure between placebo and active treatment after 3 weeks. The difference in central systolic blood pressure between placebo and active treatment was a secondary outcome.
Treatment with theobromine-enriched cocoa resulted in a mean of 3.2mmHg higher 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure compared with placebo. In contrast, 2 hours after theobromine-enriched cocoa, laboratory peripheral systolic blood pressure was not different from placebo, whereas central systolic blood pressure was 4.3mm Hg lower.
Natural dose theobromine cocoa did not significantly change either 24-hour ambulatory or central systolic blood pressure compared with placebo. In conclusion, theobromine-enriched cocoa significantly increased 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure while lowering central systolic blood pressure.
Chocolate consumption is associated with favorable levels of blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk markers. A study analyzed a prospective cohort study to determine whether regular chocolate intake during pregnancy is associated with reduced risks of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension (GH).
Subjects were recruited from 13 prenatal care practices in Connecticut (1988-1991). In-person interviews were administered at <16 weeks’ gestation to ascertain risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Hospital delivery and prenatal records were abstracted to classify preeclampsia, GH, and normotensive pregnancies.
Chocolate consumption (servings/week) during the first and third trimesters was ascertained at initial interview and immediately postpartum, respectively. Consumers of less than 1 serving/week comprised the referent group. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) were estimated by the use of logistic regression.
Chocolate intake was more frequent among normotensive (80.7%) than preeclamptic (62.5%) or GH women (75.8%), and associated with reduced odds of preeclampsia. Only first trimester intake was associated with reduced odds of GH. These findings provide additional evidence of the benefits of chocolate.
Van Den Bogaard B, Draijer R, Westerhof BE, Van Den Meiracker AH, Van Montfrans GA, Van Den Born VJ. 2010 November. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20823377
Saftlas AF, Triche EW, Beydoun H, Bracken MB. “Does Chocolate Intake Reduce The Risk Of Preeclampsia And Gestational Hypertension.” 2010 August http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20609337