Chocolate not a guilty pleasure

By Michelle Moran
February 2, 2006

Valentine chocolates can be a lot less sinful this year thanks to the Mars Chocolate company which has created a new line of chocolate products named “CocoaVia” that claim to be beneficial to your health. The Mars Company, which has produced such famous candies as Snickers, Twix, M&M’s and Skittles, is the world’s largest chocolate company and earns more than $16 billion annually.

The company states that “ingredients in CocoaVia can significantly reduce LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and promote healthy circulation to maintain heart health.”

The ingredients in CocoaVia chocolate that are beneficial include cocoa flavanols, plant sterols from soy and various nutrients including folic acid and Vitamin C. The flavonals are compounds that contain antioxidants that work to promote a healthy blood flow in the body and are naturally found in such things as red wine, green tea and recently discovered in cocoa beans.

The sterols in the chocolate work by tricking the body into lowering cholesterol levels. They do this by getting absorbed preferentially so other cholesterol gets eliminated from the body. Not to mention that this type of cholesterol does not add to heart disease risk.

The CocoaVia line of candies come in chocolate covered almonds and bars in four flavors: original, crispy, almond and blueberry. The CocoaVia chocolate line is available at selected Wal-Mart and Target stores and also some Walgreen’s stores. The candies run about $1.00 a piece and contain about 80 to 140 calories.

Along with the CocoaVia line of chocolates, other studies on chocolate have been done showing other favorable benefits on a person’s health. Researchers at Harvard University have carried out experiments that suggest that if you eat chocolate three times a month you will live almost a year longer than those who forego such sweet temptation. Another benefit to chocolate is that chocolate can actually make you feel better by increasing certain brain levels of mood-altering chemicals.

While there are many benefits of chocolate dieticians stress that people still should eat sweets in moderation and also to be weary of what type of chocolate they are choosing. Many commercial chocolates and cocoas that are available to consumers today are typically processed in ways that destroy many of their natural healthy chemicals. Also, these chocolates usually contain milk high in fat and loads of sugar which can wipe out any health benefits if you gain weight. Researchers say that the darker chocolate with the most concentrated cocoa will be the most beneficial. They recommend choosing a chocolate that has a cocoa content of 60 percent or higher. While more and more studies are being conducted over the benefits of chocolate, candy lovers everywhere are hoping for the day when they might actually be able to say, “A chocolate bar a day keeps the doctor away.”

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Posted to the web by Matt Schill

Michelle Moran

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