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Chocolate helps mend a broken heart?

A major Swiss chocolate maker is hoping to give cardiovascular patients a good excuse to reach for a chocolate bar and is asking Europe’s highest food safety authority to approve a health claim linking cocoa flavonoids with improved blood flow.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 17, 2012 14:02 IST

A major Swiss chocolate maker is hoping to give cardiovascular patients a good excuse to reach for a chocolate bar and is asking Europe’s highest food safety authority to approve a health claim linking cocoa flavonoids with improved blood flow.

In an interview with online trade publication NutraIngredients.com last week, a company spokesperson for premium chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut said the company is confident that the European Food Safety Authority will approve the claim based on the results of five clinical studies conducted and finalized last year.

Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants found in brightly colored foods like blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, red beans, nuts, red wine and tea. They’ve been associated with a decreased risk of age-related and chronic diseases.

Healthy blood flow has become an emerging trend in functional foods recently, with a spate of food manufacturers developing products that claim to help clean the arteries and reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels.

One of the pioneering artery cleaning products on the market, Fruitflow, is a tomato-based extract that was the first to win EU approval for its nutritional health claims under a section reserved for proprietary and newly emerging science.

Meanwhile, other chocolate makers have also clued into the strategy of delivering powerful health benefits via the sweet confectionery.

At the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco this weekend, US-based company ResVez will showcase products it claims can boost the immune system and serve as anti-aging chocolate bars.

The TravelTime granola bar, for instance, is made with a beta-glucan extract derived from baker's yeast that trains the body to strengthen the immune system, while the chocolate WineTime Bar contains enough resveratrol to equal 50 glasses of red wine. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes and is known to help fight free radical damage.