Cocoa Seed Extract

Common Name

Cocoa | Cocoa Bean | Cacao | Chocolate 

Top Benefits of Cocoa Extract

Supports healthy aging *

Supports exercise performance* 

Supports brain function*

Supports visual acuity*

Supports heart health*

What is Cocoa Extract?

Theobroma cacao trees have been cultivated in central and south America for at least 3,000 years. The name Theobroma cacao can be translated as chocolate (or cocoa), food of the gods. The seeds (sometimes referred to as beans) are the source of the cocoa used to make chocolate. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has a growing reputation as being a heart and brain healthy food. This is because of the cocoa content. Even more specifically, it is because of the cocoa flavanol content. Cocoa seeds are one of the best dietary sources of health-promoting polyphenol compounds. They are an especially great food source of a type of polyphenol called cocoa flavanols, such as (‐)‐epicatechin. But the cocoa flavanol content of chocolate and cocoa products varies widely because many of the flavanols are degraded when cocoa is processed. The result is that, although in theory cocoa-containing products should be a great source of flavanols, in practice many are not. When selecting a cocoa extract it’s important to choose a source that retains high amounts of the cocoa flavanols.*

Neurohacker’s Cocoa Extract Sourcing

Neurohacker uses ACTICOA® cocoa created by Barry Callebaut, because after years of research, and through controlled sourcing and processing, they found a way to retain high amounts of the naturally occurring flavanols found in cocoa beans.

ACTICOA® cocoa is at least 7.5% cocoa flavanols.

ACTICOA® is non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan.

Cocoa Extract Dosing Principles and Rationale

Acticoa® cocoa seed extract has been standardized for cocoa flavanols. When deciding on a dose of the Acticoa® cocoa seed extract we consider the amount of cocoa flavanols and the other polyphenols in the formula with it. Cocoa flavanols are a sub-group of polyphenols. Some polyphenols appear to produce threshold responses, while others produce hormetic responses (see Neurohacker Dosing Principles). In either case, above a certain range, more is not better. In addition to flavanols cocoa contains a bitter alkaloid compound called theobromine (about 2% of cocoa is theobromine). Although theobromine is a weaker cousin of sorts to caffeine, it can be stimulating if consumed in excess. So, when considering how much of the Acticoa® cocoa seed extract to include in a formula, we consider its cocoa flavanol content, the amount and variety of other polyphenols in the formula, and the amount of theobromine we are comfortable with a formula containing.*


Cocoa Extract Key Mechanisms 

Supports mitochondrial biogenesis*

Supports peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1 alpha (PGC-1α) siganaling [1–6]

Supports cAMP-PKA-CREB signaling [7]

Supports nuclear transcription factors of mitochondrial biogenesis (mitochondrial transcription factor A [TFAM]) [2,5,6,8–10]

Promotes healthy nitric oxide (NO) pathway function [1,8,10]

Supports mitochondrial structure*

Promotes inner mitochondrial membrane folding (cristae density) [1,2,8]

Supports mitochondrial membrane protein compounds (porin, mitofilin) [1,5,6,8,10]

Supports mitochondrial size/density/number [1,11]

Supports mitochondrial function*

Supports electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation performance (mitochondrial complex I-V performance) [1,2,5,8–10,12–14]

Supports mitochondrial β-oxidation performance [11]

Supports citric acid cycle function via upregulation of citrate synthase [3,5,8–10,13]

Promotes exercise performance*

Supports endurance performance [3,8,9,13,15,16]

Supports post-exercise recovery [17–19]

Supports muscle structure and function [8,16,20,21]

Promotes muscle angiogenesis/vascularity/capillarity [2,8,9,13]

Supports muscle carbohydrate metabolism [22]

Supports antioxidant capacity during exercise [23]

Supports antioxidant defenses*

Supports antioxidant defenses [4,5,21]

Replenishes glutathione (GSH) levels [3–5,14,21,24]

Supports a healthy mitochondrial redox status [3,5]

Supports cardiovascular function*

Supports healthy blood flow (endothelial function and endothelium/NO-dependent vasodilation) [25–29]

Supports healthy blood pressure [25–27,30–33]

Supports healthy cholesterol levels [25,26,34,35]

Supports healthy insulin sensitivity [25–27,30–32,36]

Supports brain function and cognition* 

Supports cognitive performance [7,31,37–45]

Supports exercise-induced executive function improvements [46]

Promotes motor activity [43]

Promotes cerebral blood flow,[41,47,48] cerebral oxygenation,[49]  and angiogenesis in the hippocampus [45]

Supports cerebral antioxidant defenses [37]

Supports central nervous system stimulation (theobromine) [50]

Adenosine receptor antagonist (theobromine) [50]; influences neurotransmitters modulated by adenosine – noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, glutamate, and GABA [43]

Phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor (theobromine) — upregulates intracellular cAMP [7] (long-term potentiation support)

Supports BDNF signaling [7,51] (neurogenesis support) 

Supports a healthy gut microbiota*

Supports a healthy composition of the gut microbiota [52–55]

Supports gut microbial metabolism [54,56] 


Promotes healthy aging and longevity*  

Supports lifespan extension (rats, diabetic mice, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans) [41,42,57]

Supports the NAD+ pool [58]

Supports insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) signaling [21,57]

Supports SIRT1 [1,4–6,58]

Supports SIRT3 [4–6]

Promotes resistance to oxidative stress [57]

Supports mild mitochondrial uncoupling (UCP1 increase) [6,11]

Supports signaling pathways: AMP-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) [3,21], liver kinase B1 (LKB1, also known as serine/threonine kinase 11 [STK11]) [3], p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (p38 MAPK) [2]

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.


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