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Mars claims benefits of new chocolates

Oct. 31, 2005 at 11:16 AM

ALBANY, Ga., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. confectioner Mars Inc. is ready with its new line of chocolate bars and chocolate-covered almonds it says are good for the heart and arteries.

The CocoaVia confections are produced at a factory in Albany, Ga., and serve as the centerpiece of a corporate quest to transform chocolate into a healthy indulgence, reports The New York Times.

The new rice and flavanol-filled cocoa powder in the chocolate bars are injected with liquid-canola plant sterols, separating them from the company's more well-known M&M's, Snickers and Dove bars.

Flavanols are naturally occurring chemicals in cocoa that have antioxidant qualities. Sterols are plant-based chemicals found in a variety of foods, the report said.

If the company can show flavanols help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, then foods with them could potentially help prevent heart disease. The bars will be placed in health food aisles.

Some skeptical nutritionists say the effort seems less of a breakthrough than a sly way to scare up chocolate sales.

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