The Hershey Company has announced that it is adding two new products to its "goodness chocolate portfolio" of antioxidant-rich chocolate. The company has established special labeling for its new line, touting high levels of flavanols that occur naturally in cocoa beans.
"Consumers are very interested in the goodness benefits of chocolate, including the antioxidants found naturally in dark chocolate," said Michele Buck, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Hershey's. "This interest is driving explosive growth in dark chocolate. Now, Hershey's Antioxidant Milk Chocolate and Hershey's Whole Bean Chocolate bring the goodness benefits of dark chocolate to the broader milk chocolate category."
Research on the benefits of chocolate is making the news and reaching consumers. Last month, researchers presenting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting stated that flavanols in cocoa beans can increase blood flow to the brain. Additionally, German scientists have demonstrated that cocoa can improve skin texture and hydration; and cocoa flavanols have been linked to low blood pressure.
Norman Hollenberg from Harvard Medical School conducted research on the island-dwelling Kuna people who live near Panama and found that the benefits of regular use of pure cocoa included decreased risk of cancer, stroke, heart failure and diabetes. Hollenberg's findings are published in the current issue of the International Journal of Medical Science.
Recognition of the health benefits of dark chocolate is not news to Hershey's
. Two years ago, the company acquired Scharffen Berger in what Hershey's called "a strategic opportunity for Hershey based on increasing consumer demand for distinctive, high-end chocolate and for the antioxidant benefits of dark chocolate."
"Chocolate is, indeed, a healing superfood with truly astounding healing qualities," said Mike Adams, author of The 7 Laws of Nutrition
. "However, combining chocolate with refined white sugar in a candy bar does not counteract the negative health effects of the sugar. I advise consumers to look for chocolate products with high cocoa content and little or no refined sugar."
Americans consume about three billion pounds of chocolate
per year, spending more than $13 billion on chocolate products annually. The vast majority of those products are highly processed and laden with sugar. Some flavanols are lost during the processing of chocolate.