Chocolate pill: It’s all benefit, no fun

It’s an idea Willy Wonka’s evil twin might have dremt of: Chocolate that’s healt hy , calorie-free, and no fun a all. Behold, the chocolate pill.

Candy-makers are pum ping up production of nutri tional supplements with flava nols, a cocoa extract said to im prove blood circulation. Barry Callebaut AG, the world’s number one maker of bulk chocolate, is planning flavano pills that have been approved by European health authoriti es as a supplement that’s bene ficial to the heart.

It joins Mars Inc., which is considering expanding its sa les of flavanol capsules and powders in Europe. Mars has been selling a supplemen called CocoaVia in the US sin ce 2010, costing $45 for 90 pills Callebaut, which supplies ilever with chocolate for its Unilever with chocolate for its Magnum ice cream, says it will team up with French nutrition supplement maker Naturex SA, which it will supply with cocoa beans to make and sell an extract of flavanols -antioxidants found in cocoa plant.

The flavanol extracts will enter a dietary supplement market that has grown 23%, to $51 billion, in the past five years, according to Euromonitor. Scientists, though, caution that buyers shouldn’t count on such products to really improve their health, and the US justice department has just charged more than 100 makers of nutritional products with fraud in the sale and marketing of dietary supplements.chocolate

“Supplements appeal to humans’ sense of control over their own health and hard-wired magical thinking that they might do some good,“ said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor. “This has nothing to do with science. Science shows that supplements have powerful placebo effects.“

In April, Callebaut became the first chocolate company to win European Commission approval for claims of health benefits from flavanol ex tracts. EU food safety officials said 200 milligrams of cocoa flavanols daily enhances circulation by supporting the elasticity of blood vessels.However, the problem is getting 200 milligrams of flavanols would require eating about two dark chocolate bars, with roughly 350 calories and 20 grams of fat.

The supplements have a better chance of gaining traction with older buyers, as younger people don’t worry too much about heart ailments.

Flavanol “is far from some kind of magic bullet solution to heart disease that some imply,“ Bandy said. “If you take the chocolate out of cocoa, it’s not very attractive.“

Source:TOI 20 Nov’2015