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Chocolate delight

Posted 17/07/2012 by sevans

Eating chocolate is good for you – everyone knows that – but after many years of research that has suggested there are health benefits involved, there might be an official statement that says so; at least in the EU.

For the decade or more, almost every one of the Spring and Fall meetings of the American Chemical Society has featured at least one paper offering evidence of the beneficial health effects of eating chocolate, often by Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor in the chemistry department at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, US, who since 1999 has focused his research on the benefits of polyphenols in chocolate.

But such academic research has not been done in isolation; industry too has looked into polyphenols. Over the same period, US confectionery giant Mars has been funding its own research into polyphenols, particularly flavonoids, and their potential health benefits.

As a result of this research, there have been many media stories about these possible health benefits, including reports in C&I, but no official backing has ever been given to these claims – until now!

According to the Reuters news agency, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has ruled that cocoa powder and dark chocolate can help people improve their blood circulation. The evidence provided to the EFSA that eating 10g of dark chocolate or its equivalent in cocoa, which were high in flavanols, helped blood flow came from Swiss cocoa and chocolate specialist Barry Callebaut. 

The Swiss company is said to be the world's largest maker of chocolate products and a supplier of cocoa and chocolate products to food companies like Nestle and Hershey. 

Reuters reports that if the European Commission signs off on the EFSA ruling, the company and its customers would have the right to use the health claim on packaging for products such as chocolate drinks, cereal bars and biscuits.

So hopefully for the first time we won’t need to feel guilty about eating chocolate, well, at least, dark chocolate.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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