Well, well, well... how is one supposed to react to this chocolate news?
Mars Inc. is rolling out CocoaVia™, an allegedly "heart-healthy" line of chocolate bars and chocolate-covered almonds, a phenomenon reported in The New York Times.
What makes this new marketing blitz jaw-droppingly amazing is that the chocolate maker actually is recommending that people eat 2 servings a day to achieve the "maximum benefit."
Wait a minute. Mars is telling people to eat 2 bars of chocolate because they're good for your heart?
Now, this takes the cake, to coin a silly cliche. (Sorry!)
Look, to be fair, you can't argue with the increasing number of medical studies which show that flavanols -- naturally occurring chemicals in cocoa -- have beneficial antioxidant and other qualities.
In fact, the CocoaVia website touts the fact that the Original Chocolate Bars "contain natural plant extracts which have been proven to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL)."
The site even talks about a special "CocoaPro® process" is used that "guarantees the retention of high levels of naturally occurring cocoa flavanols to help promote healthy circulation."
Mars is even adding another major additive, plant sterols, to its new CocoaVia bars, which The Times says "ultimately allowed it to make the claim that CocaVia is good for hearts and arteries."
In fact, Mars is even placing its new CocoaVia bars in the health food aisles, near nutrition bars rather than candy, in such retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.
Not surprisingly, some nutritionists are skeptical, contending, The Times reports, that "the effort seems less of a breakthrough than a sly way to scare up chocolate sales."
Just think about it: If you ate 2 bars of the Original Chocolate Bar, you'd be ingesting 18 grams of sugar, 200 calories and 12 grams of fat.
Or, if you downed 2 of the Chocolate Covered Almonds, you'd be consuming 280 calories and getting 16 grams of sugar, some of them from corn syrup, which can hardly be called healthy.
In fact, one insider reveals that, "like the failed V02Max bars before it, also from Mars, CocoaVia is full of high fructose corn syrup, mislabeled as corn syrup (glucose), fructose, glycerin and artifical flavors which BLOCK any metabolization from the cocoa powder." As to plant sterols, it's only available in miniscule amounts.
Look, I really do like the idea of eating dark chocolate for its wonderful protective qualities. In fact, I think Mars is onto a good idea. And CocoaVia is undoubtedly a much better food to eat than the company's other confectionary products like M&M's.
But the fact remains: If you're trying to cut back on sugar -- which many find addictive -- and other chemicals, then you best steer clear of most chocolate bars. (I'll tell you when I find one that experts recommend.)
What a darn shame. I'd love to find some dark chocolate that I could have and I could recommend to others. If the company is really serious about bringing out some heart-healthy dark chocolate, why not just sell the non-altered cocoa beans -- containing no added sugars and chemicals -- so we can get their beneficial properties?
You see, unless a chocolate maker comes up with a sugarfree, artificial-sweetener-free chocolate that contains NO corn syrup or other chamicals, I'm sticking to natural foods like veggies and fruits. Now that I'm sugarfree, an apple or two a day to keep the doctor away sounds more enticing to me anyway.