Biological Properties and Antimicrobial Potential of Cocoa and Its Effects on Systemic and Oral Health

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Nutrients. 2023 Sep 10;15(18):3927. doi: 10.3390/nu15183927.


Cocoa is considered a functional food because it is a natural source of macro- and micronutrients. Thus, cocoa is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, methylxanthines and flavonoids. In addition to favoring the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates, the bioactive components of cocoa can have an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effect, providing numerous benefits for health. This literature review presents an overview of the effects of cocoa, fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree, on systemic and oral health. Several studies report that cocoa intake may contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, immunological, inflammatory, metabolic and bone diseases, in addition to reducing the risk of vascular alterations and cognitive dysfunctions. On oral health, in vitro studies have shown that cocoa extract exerted an inhibitory effect on the growth, adherence and metabolism of cariogenic and periodontopathogenic bacteria, also inhibiting acid production, glycosyltransferase enzyme activity and the synthesis of insoluble polysaccharides. Additionally, administration of cocoa extract reduced biofilm accumulation and caries development in animals infected with cariogenic species. Clinical studies also reported that the use of mouthwashes containing cocoa extract reduced Streptococcus mutans counts in saliva and dental biofilm formation. In short, these studies highlight the nutritional value of cocoa, considering its clinical applicability, stability and economic accessibility.

PMID:37764711 | PMC:PMC10534671 | DOI:10.3390/nu15183927

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