We featured a post a few years back titled Chocolate RX for Frosties after reading that flavanols, the antioxidants found in cocoa beans, may actually help boost circulation.
In the post, Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., M.S. from the Cleveland Clinic is quoted on the fact that dark chocolate relaxes blood vessels. In addition experts report cocoa helps reduce stress hormones, another trigger for Raynaud’s attacks. Flavanoids also help keep platelets less sticky, thus decreasing the risk for heart attacks or stroke.
But what if you’d like to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate without the the sugar, calories and the guilt? You’re in luck: Candy manufacturers are working on the ultimate chocolate pills! The pills will take the form of nutritional supplements containing flavanols, and Barry Callebaut, one of the world’s largest cocoa producers, has already received approval from European health authorities to market the supplement as having heart benefits. The company plans to start supplying French nutritional supplement company Naturex with cocoa beans for an extract form of flavanols that will enter the market in 2016.
Better known manufacturers here in the U.S., including Mondelez (Cadbury and Toblerone) and Mars (M&Ms) are involved in research and development of flavanol pills, capsules and powders. Mars has a supplement that entered the U.S. market initially in 2003 called CocoaVia to great fanfare, but didn’t gain much traction. It was relaunched in 2010, but still appears to have limited retail visibility. It sells for $45 for a 90-day 30 pill supply, so maybe that has something to do with limited demand (Hershey bars are a lot cheaper!).
As for the specific health benefits of flavanol extracts, European Union Food safety officials claim 200 mg daily enhances circulation by supporting the elasticity of blood vessels. To get the same level of benefits from dark chocolate, you’d need to eat two bars a day – equating to 350 calories and 20 grams of fat – according to Mars, who claims three CocoVia capsules offer 375 mg of flavonol daily at only 10 calories. Note: CocoaVia has not been reviewed by the FDA and doesn’t claim to treat or prevent disease (No real chocolate taste and no stated health benefits for $45 a month?).
For Frosties concerned that their beloved chocolate manufacturers are diverting R&D to non-tasty alternatives, Lindt and Nestle are not committed to non-chocolate flavanol products at this time.
Here’s the full article in Business Week appropriately titled “Taking the Fun Out of Chocolate.” (Sorry, you’ll need a subscription to get more than the abstract.)