This review gives an overview of the phenolic compounds composition of cocoa
beans and their modification during manufacturing processes to the final products. Recently
published papers dealing with the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the different
classes of cocoa phenolic compounds will be discussed. Modifications of the qualitative
profile and amount of phenolic compounds in cocoa after the main processes of production
chain, fermentation, drying, roasting, and alkalization, will be described.
The second part will focus on some of the biological effects described for cocoa phenolic
compounds in vitro and in vivo. In particular, the effects of cocoa flavanols on cardiovascular
health and endothelial function have been extensively investigated over the last decades,
with interesting results from nutritional intervention trials and molecular studies. A few recent
updates on the role of cocoa and chocolate consumption on sport performances will be
Keywords: Polyphenols, cocoa beans, flavanols, processing, cardiovascular diseases, nitric oxide, blood pressure.
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