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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2012, Article ID 906252, 23 pages
Review Article

Cocoa Polyphenols and Their Potential Benefits for Human Health

Departament de Farmacologia, Facultat de Farmàcia, Universitat de València, Avenida Vicent Andrés Estellés s/n, 46100 Burjassot, Valencia, Spain

Received 14 February 2012; Revised 18 May 2012; Accepted 31 May 2012

Academic Editor: Luciano Pirola

Copyright © 2012 I. Andújar 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.


This paper compiles the beneficial effects of cocoa polyphenols on human health, especially with regard to cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer prevention. Their antioxidant properties may be responsible for many of their pharmacological effects, including the inhibition of lipid peroxidation and the protection of LDL-cholesterol against oxidation, and increase resistance to oxidative stress. The phenolics from cocoa also modify the glycemic response and the lipid profile, decreasing platelet function and inflammation along with diastolic and systolic arterial pressures, which, taken together, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality. Cocoa polyphenols can also modulate intestinal inflammation through the reduction of neutrophil infiltration and expression of different transcription factors, which leads to decreases in the production of proinflammatory enzymes and cytokines. The phenolics from cocoa may thus protect against diseases in which oxidative stress is implicated as a causal or contributing factor, such as cancer. They also have antiproliferative, antimutagenic, and chemoprotective effects, in addition to their anticariogenic effects.