An impressive amount of new research on chocolate has appeared in medical journals in the last year. Below is the synopsis of what has been published in the period between May 2012 and August 2013 (note: the highlighted numbers below link to abstracts in PubMed).
First, just a few preliminary facts on cocoa chemistry: Cocoa, or cacao, and, hence, chocolate are some of the highest known sources of the flavanoid (flavan-3-ol) epicatechin, the major flavanoid in chocolate. The activity of cacao and chocolate is considered to be primarily due to and its condensed versions (i.e. procyanidins), as well as theobromine (the main alkaloid in cacao), and magnesium. Other interesting substances recently found in cocoa and chocolate include methylpyrazines, largely responsible for the aroma of chocolate (22972787); N-phenylpropenoyl-l-amino acids, which determine the astringent taste of cocoa (22953909); hydroxycinnamic acids (22931195); and certain amino acids and peptides, some of which possess hypoglycemic activity (23107706, 23862567). Continue reading