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THE HEALTHFUL BENEFITS OF EDIBLE PRODUCTS FROM THE

COCOA BEAN
A PLENARY SESSION PRESENTATION BY PROF. F. KWAKU ADDAI,
HONORARY NATIONAL PRESIDENT, GHANA SCIENCE ASSOCIATION;
AT THE IST COCOBOD CONFERENCE FOR PROMOTION OF LOCAL
CONSUMPTION OF COCOA PRODUCTS
AND 24TH BIENNIAL CONFERNCE OF THE GSA.
2ND AUGUST 2005, AUDITORIUM OF GIMPA, GREENHILL.
Protocol observation.
Madam Chairperson, the theme for this conference, Maximizing the benefits of the
Cocoa Tree suggests that it is possible to increase and/or improve the ways in which
we use various parts of the cocoa tree. In traditional cocoa growing communities
there are a variety of ways in which various parts of the cocoa plant are used for the
benefit of humans. I can categorize traditional uses of cocoa into three, namely; (1) as
food, (2) medicinal uses, and (3) other purposes. Other purposes include the use of
the cocoa tree for building and fuel wood, as well as burning dried cocoa pods for
ashes to be used in manufacturing soap. Other plenary presenters at this conference
have dealt with the medicinal uses of cocoa in varying degrees of detail. In fact, one
Rev. Dr, Elias Kwaku Asiama is mounting and exhibition of many traditional
medicinal preparations from cocoa at this conference in conjunction with the Cocoa
Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).
As the title of my presentation indicates, my focus today is on edible products from
the cocoa bean. However, permit me to mention three ways in which a cocoagrowing family such as he one I had in my village used cocoa as food.

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1. Immature cocoa fruits were used the same way as okra in preparation of
various soups, but especially in the green-green type that used a variety of
green leafy vegetables.
2. Terminal leaves (typically purple in colour) were added to green leafy
vegetables to prepare soup or stew/sauce.
3. Dried cocoa beans were roasted in open embers of fire and blended by
grinding with vegetables in preparing condiments (stew/sauce called abom)
for eating boiled root crop or plantain (as ampesi).
Madam Chairperson, did my folks in the village know the healthful benefits, or
indeed are any such benefits obtainable by consuming cocoa in the traditional way?
This question remains to be answered through an appropriately designed research, and
I invite my colleague members of the GSA to take up the challenge. Modern
processing of cocoa beans for consumption involves several processes including
fermentation, drying, roasting, winnowing, grinding into cocoa liquor which is

squeezed by hydraulic presses to reduce the cocoa butter content (from the 45-55% in
the bean to >15%). The resulting cocoa cake can be ground into cocoa powder that
may be consumed as beverage or solid in chocolate bars and other confectionery.
What research has established is that when the cocoa bean has been properly
cultivated, harvested, and processed in the modern way, then consuming it can afford
remarkable health benefits. The extent of the benefits depends on proper handling
and processing of the cocoa bean as other speakers have explained. It is refreshing to
note at this juncture that Ghanaian cocoa farmers have mastered the art of cultivating
the cocoa bean up to the drying stage, such that cocoa produced in Ghana is the
worlds gold standard for quality cocoa beans.
Madam Chairperson, historically consumption of cocoa (mainly as a beverage) dates
back to about 500 AD among the Mayans of South America. It is believed that the
exquisite health and well-being derived from drinking cocoa informed the name that
the Mayans called the tree; i.e. cacao (pronounced kakawa) which means God
Food. Records indicate that the Mayans actually worshipped the cocoa tree. The
Aztec civilisation that succeeded the Mayan one continued the tradition of cocoa
beverage consumption. The Aztecs consumed cocoa as a hot frothy, often spiced,
bitter drink called xocolatl, which means bitter juice. Spanish conquistadors
adulterated xocolatl to chocolat out of which the English coined the word chocolate.
Among the ancient Aztecs, the cocoa drink was used in rituals and celebrations
perhaps not unlike the way alcoholic beverages are used in rituals and celebrations in
Ghana today. As a drink xocolatl was reserved for nobles, priests, and warriors. In
this presentation, chocolate will be used as a synonym for cocoa.
There are numerous folkloric accounts of the benefits of cocoa as beverage prepared
from powder obtained from properly processed cocoa beans. A confluence of
epidemiological, nutritional, biochemical and other research efforts have confirmed
and/or helped to explain some of the folkloric benefits of natural cocoa powder drink;
as well as consumption of products of the cocoa bean.

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Madam Chairperson, before I account for what is known through scientific research to
be the healthful benefits of edible products of coca, let me give some interesting
quotes to indicate what has been thought of cocoa/chocolate.
The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of the
precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food. Aztec
Emperor Moctezuma, 1500s
Nowhere else has nature compressed such a store of the most valuable nutrients
into such a small place as it has with the cocoa bean. -- Alexander von Humboldt
1769-1859.
It vehemently incites to Venus, and causeth conception in women, hastens and
facilitates their delivery; it is recommended for those stricken with cough, and
for treatment of diarrhoea in children. Cocoa helps the debilitated put on

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weight, while it also cleanseth the teeth, sweetneth the breath, provokes urine,
expels poisons, and preserves from infectious diseases Jesuit Bernandino
Sahagun 1520s
If you are not feeling well, if you have not slept, chocolate will revive you. But
you have no chocolate! I think of that again and again! My dear, how will you
ever manage? --Marquise de Sevigne, February 11, 1677
Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the worlds perfect food. -- Michael
Levine, Nutrition Researcher.
The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it
the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain. -Thomas Jefferson -third President of the United States (1801-1809).
Chocolate causes certain endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your
feelings and behaviour by making you happy. Therefore, it counteracts
depression, in turn reducing the stress of depression. Your stress-free life helps
you maintain a youthful disposition, both physically and mentally. So, eat lots of
chocolate! --Elaine Sherman, Book of Divine Indulgences