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Journal of Toxicology
Volume 2016, Article ID 4783829, 11 pages
Research Article

Macro- and Microelemental Composition and Toxicity of Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder in Sprague-Dawley Rats

1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Ghana School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, Legon, Ghana
2Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Ghana School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, Legon, Ghana
3Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences (Pathology), School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
4Geological Survey Department, Accra, Ghana

Received 9 May 2016; Revised 28 June 2016; Accepted 10 July 2016

Academic Editor: Syed Ali

Copyright © 2016 Isaac Julius Asiedu-Gyekye et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Unsweetened natural cocoa powder (UNCP) is a pulverized high-grade powder of compressed solid blocks which remains after extraction. Little scientific data is available concerning its safety despite the presence of potential toxic elements. Elemental composition in UNCP was analyzed with ED-XRF spectroscopy. Single oral high dose toxicity study was conducted on adult male Sprague-Dawley rats (150 g) by the limit test method. One group received water and the test group 2000 mg/kg UNCP. All animals were observed for 14 days and then euthanized for haematological, biochemical, and histopathological examinations. Thirty-eight (38) elements were found in UNCP. There was an increase in HDL cholesterol (), reduction in LDL cholesterol (), alkaline phosphatase (), and creatinine levels, and slight increase in urea levels (). Haematological changes were not significant. Histopathological analysis showed no toxic effect on the heart, liver, kidney, lungs, testis, and spleen. Intestinal erosion was observed in the test group. UNCP appears to be relatively safe when taken as a single oral high dose of 2000 mg/kg b.w.t. in rats. Caution should however be exercised at high doses due to the high elemental content of copper and high possibility of intestinal lining erosion.