Is there a need for “healthy” chocolate? Systematic literature review


  • María Cecilia Vintimilla Álvarez Faculty of Engineering and Science, Aalborg University,


Background: Chocolate has special properties that help to protect the human body against cardiovascular diseases; it increases HDL cholesterol and decrease blood pressure. Chocolate consumption also helps to reduce stress, elevates mood and reduces tiredness. The purpose of this review is to identify, select, organize and summarize studies that investigate chocolate in relation to health, sensory characteristics and people’s attitudes. This report is part of the master thesis: Is there a need for “healthy” chocolate? Systematic literature review and consumer research in Belgium and in Denmark, submitted by the author in June 2015 at Alborg University in Copenhagen. Methods: This study presents three areas related to chocolate: Chocolate and its relation to health, Chocolate sensory characteristics and acceptance, and attitudes towards Chocolate. A systematic literature review has been done to identify, select, organize and summarize studies that investigate chocolate in relation to these three areas. Four databases were chosen: PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus and Web of Science because of their extension and because they overlay cross disciplinary researches. Results: A total of 2062 hits were obtained in the four databases. In total sixty articles met the criteria and were identified as relevant. The articles were classified according to the three areas included in the study. In relation to health, it has been stated in many studies that polyphenols in chocolate can improve health, especially cardiovascular diseases related. Regarding sensory characteristics and acceptance of chocolate, it has been said that chocolate shape has an influence on chocolate perception. Polyphenols cause astringency and bitterness to chocolate making it not too appetizing for consumers; however for health reasons, polyphenols should be kept. Concerning the attitudes towards chocolate, there are many factors that lead to chocolate craving. Chocolate is the most craved food item in North America. It influences people’s mood and create a satiety feeling. Conclusion: Based on this review it can be concluded that a “healthy” chocolate could be part of a healthy diet. People like to indulge in chocolate, women more than men. The literature supports the health properties that chocolate consumption has, for instance, it is necessary to work on chocolate product development.


Antecedentes: El chocolate tiene propiedades especiales que ayudan a proteger el cuerpo humano de enfermedades cardiovasculares, incrementa el colesterol HDL y reduce la presión sanguínea. El consumo de chocolate también ayuda a reducir el estrés, eleva el ánimo y reduce el cansancio. El propósito de esta revisión es identificar, seleccionar, organizar y resumir estudios que investiguen el chocolate en relación con la salud, las características sensoriales y las actitudes de las personas. Este artículo es parte de la tesis de maestría: Is there a need for “healthy” chocolate? Systematic literature review and consumer research in Belgium and in Denmark (Es necesario el chocolate “saludable”? Revisión sistemática de la literatura y estudio al consumidor en Bélgica y Dinamarca), presentada por la autora en Junio del 2015 a la Universidad de Aalborg en Copenhague. Métodos: Este estudio presenta tres áreas relacionadas con el chocolate: Chocolate y su relación con la salud; características sensoriales y aceptación del chocolate; y actitudes hacia el chocolate. Una revisión sistemática de la literatura fue realizada para identificar, seleccionar, organizar y resumir estudios que investiguen al chocolate en relación con estas tres áreas. Cuatro  bases de datos fueron escogidas: PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus y y Web of Science por sus extensiones y porque superponen investigaciones interdisciplinarias. Resultados: Se obtuvieron un total de 2062 hits en las cuatro bases de datos. Un total de sesenta artículos cumplieron los criterios y fueron identificados como relevantes. Los artículos fueron clasificados de acuerdo a las tres áreas incluidas en el estudio. En relación a la salud, se ha indicado en muchos estudios que los polifenoles en el chocolate pueden mejorar la salud, especialmente en enfermedades cardiovasculares. De acuerdo a las características sensoriales y aceptación del chocolate, se ha dicho que la forma del chocolate tiene una influencia en la percepción del mismo. Los polifenoles causan astringencia y amargor al chocolate, haciéndolo no muy apetecido para los consumidores; sin embargo, por razones de salud, los polifenoles deben ser conservados. Acerca de las actitudes hacia el chocolate, hay muchos factores que llevan al deseo incontrolable de consumir chocolate. El chocolate es el alimento más apetecido en Norte América, éste influencia el estado anímico y crea una sensación de saciedad.  Conclusión: Con base en esta revisión se puede concluir que un chocolate “saludable” puede ser parte de una dieta saludable, a la gente le gusta disfrutar del chocolate, mujeres más que hombres. La literatura respalda las propiedades saludables que tiene el consumo del chocolate, por esto es necesario trabajar en el desarrollo de productos de chocolate.


Los datos de descargas todavía no están disponibles.


[1] J. K. Jesson, L. Matheson, and F. M. Lacey, Doing your literature review. Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd: Sage Publications, 2011.
[2] A. Booth, D. Papaioannou, and A. Sutton, Systematic Approaches to a successful literature review. Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd: Sage Publications, 2012.
[3] S. Desch, J. Schmidt, D. Kobler, M. Sonnabend, I. Eitel, M. Sareban, K. Rahimi, G. Schuler, and H. Thiele, “Effect of cocoa products on blood pressure: Systematic review and meta-analysis,” American Journal of Hypertension, vol. 23, pp. 97–103, 2010.
[4] B. Buijsse, C. Weikert, D. Drogan, M. Bergmann, and H. Boeing, “Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in german adults,” European Hearth Journal, vol. 31, pp. 1616–1623, 2010.
[5] B. Sarriá, S. Martínez-López, J. L. Sierra-Cinos, L. García-Diz, R. Mateos, and L. Bravo, “Regular consumption of a cocoa product improves the cardiometabolic profile in healthy and moderately hypercholesterolaemic adults,” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 111, pp. 122–134, 2014.
[6] R. Corti, A. J. Flammer, N. K. Hollenberg, and T. F. Luscher, “Cocoa and cardiovascular health,” Circulation, vol. 119, pp. 1433–1441, 2009.
[7] J. A. Nasser, L. E. Bradley, J. B. Leitzsch, O. Chohan, K. Fasulo, J. Haller, K. Jaeger, B. Szulanczyk, and A. Del Parigi, “Psychoactive effects of tasting chocolate and desire for more chocolate,” Physiology & Behavior, vol. 104, pp. 117–121, 2011.
[8] F. Lenfant, C. Hartmann, B. Watzke, O. Breton, C. Loret, and N. Martin, “Impact of the shape on sensory properties of individual dark chocolate pieces,” LWT - Food Science and Technology, vol. 51, pp. 545–552, 2013.
[9] M. K. Ngo, M. Reeva, and C. Spence, “Assessing the shapes and speech sounds that people associate with chocolate samples varying in cocoa content,” Food Quality and Preference, vol. 22, pp. 567–572, 2011.
[10] H. J. Smit and R. J. Blackburn, “Reinforcing effects of caffeine and theobromine as found in chocolate,” Psychopharmacology, vol. 181, pp. 101–106, 2005.
[11] M. Torres-Moreno, A. Tarrega, E. Costell, and C. Blanch, “Dark chocolate acceptability: inflience of cocoa origin and processing conditions,” J Sci Food Agric, vol. 92, pp. 404–411, 2012.
[12] J. E. H. M. L. Harwood, G. R. Ziegler, “Tolerance for high flavanol cocoa powder in semisweet chocolate,” Nutrients, vol. 5, pp. 2258–2267, 2013.
[13] F. Cartwright and W. G. Stritzke, “A multidimensional ambivalence model of chocolate craving: Construct validity and associations with chocolate consumption and disordered eating,” Eating Behaviors, vol. 9, pp. 1–12, 2008.
[14] J. M. Hormes, N. C. Orloff, and C. A. Timko, “Chocolate craving and disordered eating. beyond the gender divide?” Appetite, vol. 83, pp. 185–193, 2014.
[15] J. L. Osman and J. Sobal, “Chocolate cravings in american and spanish individuals: Biological and cultural influences,” Appetite, vol. 47, pp. 290–301, 2006.
[16] J. M. Hormes and C. A. Timko, “All cravings are not created equal. correlates of menstrual versus non-cyclic chocolate craving,” Appetite, vol. 57, pp. 1–5, 2011.
[17] M. Macht and J. Mueller, “Interactive effects of emotional and restrained eating on responses to chocolate and affect,” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, vol. 195, pp. 1024–1026, 2007.
[18] M. Macht and J. Mueller, “Immediate effects of chocolate on experimentally induced mood states,” Appetite, vol. 49, pp. 667–674, 2007.
[19] A. Akyol, H. Dasgin, A. Ayaz, Z. Buyuktuncer, and H. T. Besler, “B glucan and dark chocolate: A randomized crossover study on short-term satiety and energy intake,” Nutrients, vol. 6, pp. 3863–3877, 2014.