Cocoa and the coronavirus: can it boost the immune system?

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cocoa coronavirus

Cacao beans have been consumed by humans for over 3,000 years and the ingredient is well-known for its wide range of health benefits, recent research suggests it can provide stronger protection against influenza virus infection.

Lemon juice, mosquito bites and blood donations? There are plenty of coronavirus health myths circulating online​, which ConfectioneryNews doesn’t wish to perpetuate in any shape or form, but there is case for cocoa right now to help boost the human body’s immune system.

Let’s be clear: cocoa is not a cure for coronavirus, The Covid-19 outbreak is a new illness and scientists are still assessing how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses tend to spread via cough and sneeze droplets. Only a vaccine can prevent people from getting sick and the World Health Organization says approximately 35 companies and academic institutions are racing to create such a vaccine.

However, in a 2015 medical study*, it was revealed that cocoa contains biologically active ingredients that have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes an inhibitory effect on influenza virus infection.

The report’s conclusion: ‘Drinking cocoa activates natural immunity and enhances vaccination-induced immune response, providing stronger protection against influenza virus infection and disease onset’.

Dr Edward Ampofo of Ghana’s Cocoa Clinic has also claimed that cocoa does not only help to boost the immune system but equally helps to protect the human body against infection.

In a video posted on​, he explained that the immune functions of cocoa are mainly related to what he called its polyphenol content and methylxanthine-theobromine.

The immune system protects the body against germs and foreign materials​," he explained, saying “it is made up of two components - innate and adaptive. The innate immune response is inborn or natural​.”

He told oxidative stress has been identified as a major factor in inhibiting the immune system from performing its normal functions.

Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants​.

There is oxidative stress in infections and the body usually mobilizes, for example white blood cells in such situations. Polyphenol-rich cocoa is a strong antioxidant and therefore able to mop up these free radicals produced via oxidative stress and in turn normalizes the functions of the immune system​.”

He said cocoa is recognized as the highest source of polyphenols of all foods on weight basis and “polyphenol-rich cocoa, apart from its antioxidant properties is able to independently act on the immune system to perform its functions to the desired level​.”

  • In general, consuming cocoa is likely to be safe for most people but there are potentially harmful side-effects​ associated with the ingredient. Regarding staying well during the coronavirus pandemic, please follow government guidelines and stay safe.

* Study: Anti-influenza virus effects of cocoa​.
Kamei M1, Nishimura H2, Takahashi T1, Takahashi N1, Inokuchi K3, Mato T3, Takahashi K2​.

News source: Consume more cocoa to fight coronavirus – Ghanaians told

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