February 22, 2006

Review: Dagoba Xocolatl Bar

After trying the Choxie Aztec Thin I was wondering how the fabled Dagoba Xocolatl would compare. The Choxie had some spice to it but no burn and was an all around nice bar. The Dagoba bar (75% cacao content) brings chilis, nibs, maca (more on this mysterious substance later), vanilla and nutmeg to the table all wrapped up in organic goodness.

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January 19, 2006

Scientists Move Closer to Understanding Health Benefits of Chocolate

Caduceus.gifScientists have finally isolated one of the flavanols that are responsible for the cardiovascular benefits of chocolate! A study by a group of University scientists from around the world and chocolate manufacturer Mars Inc. has shown evidence that the flavanol (-)epicatechin has a blood vessel relaxation effect. The study had both laboratory and field study portions which both support their findings all of which is covered (with some promotional fluff thrown in for good measure) in this press release.

I try hard to ignore the cheerleaders touting chocolate as a health food but at the same time I can't ignore that there are health benefits to be gained from moderate chocolate intake (moderation being the key). As I've said before: chocolate is a snack food, not a health food.

And, while we're at it, just how does one pronounce (-)epicatechin anyway? Anybody?

December 21, 2005

Chocolate and Your Health

News.jpgIt's pretty frightening how many articles I see on a daily basis touting dark chocolate as a 'health food'. I've stated my personal views on the subject and because of those views I try not to post all of these articles unless there is something that really catches my eye. Today I have found an article on Confectionery News that actually represents the voice of reason. It summarizes a slew of the findings on ways chocolate is good for us but it quickly turns it around and brings us all back to reality discussing the physical and ethical issues surrounding chocolate.

I like to think that chocolate is a treat and not a cure all. It is good for us emotioanally and dark chocolate in particular carries a lot of beneficial substances, but it is still just a treat - not a health food. The good news is that, in small doses, our treat is at least as good for us as it is bad.

December 12, 2005

House of Brussels Releases ChocoMed Bars

brussels.jpgHouse of Brussels Chocolates announced recently the release of the first of it's new line of ChocoMed fortified chocolate bars. With more than two years of research going into their creation the ChocoMed Pure Chocolate brand marries nutritional supplements with fine chocolate. The inial six varieties are Anti-Aging, Stress Free, Strong Bones, Pre-Natal, Sweet Dreams And Vitamin Bars.
With two years research and real doctors involved in the poject - as well as a quality company like Brussels - I have higher hopes for this product than I do for most of it's sort. If I find any of them I'll see about giving the Stress Free, Sweet Dreams, and Vitamin bars a try. I'm curious as to how well they have managed to 'marry' chocolate and nutraceuticals.
ChocoMed Site
House of Brussels Site
Press Release

Britains Going for the Good Stuff

News.jpgAccording to an article on Yahoo! News the people of Great Britain are beginning to shift their tastes from more generic 'candy' chocolates and over to more quality chocolate. Sales of dark chocolate are up 30% and the increase is thought to be because of - what else - the potential health benefits of chocolate. A small article but interesting news.

December 9, 2005

Opinion: Healthy Chocolate

fun.jpgThe idea of chocolate being a health food has really taken root in people’s imaginations. It isn’t terribly surprising that the concept of a decadent treat being good for you has people excited and in the modern world of consumerism that means It will be in your face, every day, as more studies are completed and new products are announced. I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the topic.

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December 1, 2005

More Potential Chocolate Health Benefits

barrycallebaut.jpgBarry Callebaut - parent company of Callebaut, Brachs, Cocoa Barry and many more - have announced new findings with regards to chocolate and your health. What's more, this time it isn't all about the flavonoids. This time we get to hear about the wonders of polyphenols and how they can help fight cancer and aging. Somehow these polyphenols managed to slip beneath my radar but apparently they are the next wave of marketing and will probably be as big as flavonoids. Barry Callebaut already have a special premium brand of chocolate rich in polyphenols called Acticoa which this news can only help. The article is a good read and I recommend it.

It does raise a few questions for me, however. First, if consumers preceive chocolate as healthy what effect will it have on prices and production methods? I can't help but think in terms of supply and demand and the price would have to rise accordingly. Additionally there would be pressure to increase production which could hurt the Fair Trade movement. And would this have an effect on the role of the small plantations, the sort from which we get single origin chocolate? I would imagine that there would be an effort by large producers to get as much land for cultivation as possible and that could mean the acquisition of smaller plantations. Just a few thoughts. And these all assume that all of this craziness regarding chocolate and your health actually pans out. I think it has a shot at being legitimate, but there are other health concerns that go along with chocolate (fat anybody?) that need to be considered along with the potential benefits.


November 25, 2005

Newtree Chocolats

newtree.jpgThere has been a lot of news in the past year about how chocolate is actually (maybe) good for you. Well, Newtree is taking the concept one step further by combining the miracle food that is chocolate with other beneficial all-natural ingredients to make what I would tend to think of as holistic health chocolate. For instance their Serenity bar uses bitter orange for it's soothing effect and their Vivacity bar is overflowing with naturally occurring caffeine and other stimulants (creating the chocolate bar equivalent of an energy drink). An interesting concept. Their bars are divided into categories based on their effect: Stimulating, Harmony, Relaxing, Pleasure, Digestion, and Antioxidant. I like the concept but would like to see them take it one step further and go with Fair Trade chocolate. It would be good for you and for the people who work the plantations as well. That little quibble won't stop me from trying their chocolate if I see it, though.