The cocoa tree is widespread in all tropical countries. It is mainly cultivated in West Africa (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo), Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is the seed (or bean) that is called cocoa. Cocoa contains many compounds responsible for its flavor and taste. It also contains alkaloids, including theobromine (the majority) and caffeine. Theobromine takes its name from the Latin word 'theobroma' which means 'food of the gods'. Other cocoa compounds include lipids (50% of the total composition, which are what give cocoa butter), polyphenols, pectins, proteins and minerals... Consumed above all as a food, cocoa is also consumed for its "medicinal" properties.
- Cocoa is considered a tonic for the heart and a diuretic for the kidneys;
- Vasodilator properties (in the coronary arteries) and relaxing effect on smooth muscles;
- Antioxidant properties due to its high polyphenol content;
- Protective effect against atherosclerosis: the polyphenols in cocoa limit the appearance of LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol");
- Slimming effect, due to the richness of polyphenols and theobromine: these compounds prevent the accumulation of triglycerides in the blood, favor the reduction of fatty acid synthesis, and increase thermogenesis (natural process which allows the body to burn fat).