Mars offers cholesterol-lowering chocolate bars

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Candy giant Mars has expanded its functional food line with a new
plant sterol-enriched chocolate bar for lowering cholesterol.

The company said yesterday that it had developed a bar containing a patented blend of soy-derived sterols and cocoa flavonols, as well as added calcium and B vitamins thought to boost heart health. Mars has marketed a granola snack bar rich in cocoa flavonols over the Internet for the last two years. But the new additions to the CocoaVia brand - including chocolate bars and chocolate-covered almonds - will be available in mainstream retailers from next month as the company steps up its focus on healthy products. "CocoaVia is the vanguard of our efforts to 'reinvent' cocoa as aningredient in healthful foods," according to the firm's chief scientist Dr Harold Schmitz. Mars is promoting itself as an expert in cocoa science, after work with researchers at universities like Harvard and the University of California-Davis gave it access to studies demonstrating the health benefits of cocoa flavanols. Found naturally in cocoa beans, these antioxidant compounds are thought to influence factorsassociated with clotting and promote a healthy blood flow. Some studiessuggest that cocoa flavanols can improve the health of blood vessels andreduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that can lead to clogged arteries. Mars, which has set up a new business unit to promote its healthy range called Mars Nutrition for Health & Well-Being, will be targeting consumers aware of the need to switch to healthier foods but reluctant to change eating habits and pass on chocolate bars. The move into the health and nutrition area is also part of its continuing portfolio diversification, as Mars now offers savory snacks, pet food, and food and beverages other than chocolate. External links to companies or organisations mentioned in thisstory: CocoaVia

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