With heart disease and obesity levels booming in Western Europe, manufacturers and scientists are increasingly trying to make a link between health and confectionery, traditionally seen as a 'naughty' treat.
Flavonoid rich chocolate helps heart health
A new Japanese study suggests that consuming dark chocolate containing flavonoids on a regular basis improves coronary blood flow, and so reduces the risk of fatty build up in the arteries and heart attacks.
Researchers from Chini University studied the affect on consumption of dark chocolate on the ability of the coronary articles to dilate, and therefore let more blood through.
During a two week trial of 39 adults, half were give 550 milligrams of flavonoid rich dark chocolate to eat every day, while the other half were given normal white chocolate.
While the dark chocolate had no effect on other heart mechanisms, participants who ate the dark chocolate showed improved blood flow around the heart at the end of the study, researchers said.
"Flavonoid-rich dark chocolate had acute effects in improving coronary function in healthy adults, as compared to non-flavonoid white chocolate, independent of changes in oxidative stress parameters, blood pressure and lipid profile," researchers said.
Super-antioxidant choc heads to shelves
A new chocolate bar launched this week in the UK contains a person's daily allowance of antioxidants, the manufacturers claim.
UK chocolatier Prestat also claim that their new Choxi+ bar contains three times as many antioxidants, the natural compounds that help fight against heart disease and cancer, as any other chocolate bar.
"Choxi+ has nothing added to it, it just retains much more of cocoa beans' natural goodness because it is made so gently and without too much heat," the company said.
Although the company does not encourage consumers to forego eating antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, raisin and apples, Prestat does state that only two squares provides a day's worth of antioxidants.
The bar has certainly caught the attention of the media in the UK, and Channel 4, the Independent, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Sunday Mirror and the Telegraph have all reviewed Choxi+ over the last few weeks.
Cholesterol lowering chewing gum launched
Finland-base Fennobon says its Xylident gum reduces cholesterol if chewed on a regular basis.
The gum contains Reducol, a patented ingredient formulated with sterols and stanols, which can reduce cholesterol levels, by up to 24 per cent, the company claims.
"The Xylident chewing gum is a clear example of innovation in a category where new products are hard to develop," the company said.
"This represents an important step in a new generation of products supporting cardiovascular health that can be enjoyed by consumers as well as Reducol milk, rye bread, spreads, chocolate, yoghurt, and yoghurt drinks."
The formulation was carried out in association with Forbes Mini-Tech, a life sciences company that carries out research into products beneficial to human health.