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Not All Chocolate Created Equal; Mars, Incorporated Unlocks Secret to Preserving Potential Heart Healthy Benefits of Chocolate


WEBWIRE

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ -- January 27, 2005 -- While chocolate has been in the nutrition spotlight this past year, to many consumers it’s been somewhat unclear whether or not all chocolate is created equal. With all the conflicting messages about which chocolate actually shows the promise of supporting good cardiovascular health, cocoa science is in danger of being replaced with cocoa confusion. In fact, Mars, Incorporated is the only company that has created a special process for preserving the heart health benefits of chocolate.

According to recent studies, the naturally occurring cocoa flavanol compounds are showing great promise in maintaining heart health, healthy blood flow and improved elasticity in blood vessels. Yet, only certain cocoas and chocolates are specially processed to retain the flavanols naturally occurring in cocoa beans. As the world leader in the science of cocoa and chocolate, Mars has spent nearly fifteen years researching cocoa flavanols and has developed the only patented and proprietary Cocoapro(TM) cocoa process, which preserves these important cocoa flavanols that are usually destroyed during standard processing. This unique process, used in Mars chocolate products such as DOVE(R) Chocolate, not only retains the natural goodness of the cocoa bean, but also maintains the delicious, melt-in-your-mouth taste of chocolate.

Many reports and articles claim that the darker the chocolate the better. Yet, Dr. Harold Schmitz, Ph.D., Director of Science at Mars, who spearheads its cocoa science research, cautions, “When considering which chocolate shows the most promise for heart health, it’s important to ask two questions, has the cocoa or chocolate been processed in a way to retain the flavanols? And, has the specific cocoa or chocolate product actually been clinically tested?”

Schmitz continues, “It’s understandable that everyone wants to share in the good news, but the important thing to remember is that specific scientific research can’t automatically be applied across a category of products that are processed differently, have different ingredients, and use different recipes. One thing we have learned is that not all chocolate is created equal.”

The potential health benefits of Mars Cocoapro(TM) products have been so promising that Mars chocolate has been used in some of the latest clinical research to study heart-related benefits of chocolate.

Most recently, two review articles(1) appeared in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supplement indicating that flavanol-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and cocoa can exert positive cardioprotective effects with respect to vascular function and elasticity in the arteries.

Earlier last fall, USDA, in collaboration with Mars, presented the initial results of a database that catalogs the type and quantity of flavanols in cocoa, chocolate, and other foods like fruits, nuts, and beverages. The USDA database showed that DOVE(R) Dark Chocolate Bars, and Cocoapro(TM) cocoa powder contain much higher amounts of flavanols than the averages that appear in the comparable food categories detailed in the database (poster available at http://chocolateinfo.com/rl/rl_media.jsp). The analytical method to determine the type of flavanols was developed by Mars and adopted and adapted by USDA as their official method.

More good news was published in the August 27, 2003 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which included two clinical studies conducted in Germany, suggesting that the flavanols found in certain cocoa and chocolate products may have positive effects on vascular health.

Mars, Incorporated is one of the world’s top producers of chocolate, and with a strong commitment to health research, is the leader in the science of cocoa, chocolate and health. Mars uses patented and proprietary methods of processing cocoa beans to retain as much of their naturally occurring flavanols as possible, marking these products with the Cocoapro(TM) seal, a hand holding a cocoa bean to signify the careful handling. For more information please visit www.chocolateinfo.com or www.cocoapro.com.

(1)AJCN Review Articles:

Carl Keen’s “Cocoa antioxidants and cardiovascular health” http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/81/1/298S

AJCN: Helmut Sies “Cocoa polyphenols and inflammatory mediators” http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/81/1/304S



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