By Dean L. Jones, CPM
Living a sugary-filled product free life feels good, except for the temptation to eat dark chocolate. In view of that, I became intrigued upon learning about how the Mars candy company has funded a five-year study of 18,000 healthy people to determine whether a pill containing the cocoa flavanols nutrients in dark chocolate can help prevent heart attacks, strokes and other related heart diseases.
My interest follows how these cocoa flavanols have already proven to have positive benefits in preventing the risk factors associated with heart disease, high blood pressure (helping blood vessels to dilate), cholesterol, and sensitivity to insulin. Making it no secret that cacao, which is the source of dark chocolate’s distinct taste, comes loaded with healthy chemicals like flavanols and theobromine.
The challenge for food manufacturers is cacao has a bitter, chalky like taste so by adding sugar, an emulsifier (usually soy lecithin), and flavorings such as vanilla work to make it more palatable. The cocoa content of commercial dark chocolate bars can range from 30% (semisweet dark) to 70%, 75%, or even above 80% that extremely dark chocolate bar, which is what I personally prefer eating.
Nevertheless, constantly eating small amounts of processed sugar is an unhealthy practice and the pursuit to develop a concentrated pill gives room for a somewhat valid surrogate. On the other hand, it would be completely logical if chemical pills did not always come with a level of toxicity that normally far outweighs the dangers associated with eating processed milk, butter and/or sugar. What’s more, anywhere dominate corporations voluntarily pay for scientific research the end result can only be to amass huge financial profits, therefore the mere idea that Mars Incorporated is doing this solely to create a heart disease pill stopper is open to discussion.
This scientific study focuses on bio-active nutrients found in the cocoa bean, without all the extra ingredients such as sugar, found in chocolate candies. This follows other research that has shown how cocoa flavanols when taken as a pill improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the body’s use of insulin. Although I have never considered taking such a pill, lozenge, or tablet, Mars Incorporated already sells CocoaVia, which is a cocoa extract capsule containing 250 milligrams of flavanols.
Even more interesting is that the Mars company’s large line of products barely carries true dark chocolate items. The Dove® Dark Chocolate bar comes close using ingredients that include a semisweet chocolate, although it is made with sugar, milk chocolate, chocolate processed with alkali, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, which are non-heart friendly items. Mars also produces Uncle Ben’s Rice and Wrigley Company’s line of foodstuff. Mars is legendarily known for creating and selling milk chocolate candies like Milky Way, M&M’s, Twix, Snickers, and the Mars bar, not to mention its trendy Skittles.
Dean Jones, Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributes his view on consuming various unwholesome packaged foods and beverages.