getting fresh: Under pressure? Eat chocolate.
An apple a day won’t keep the doctor away, but a chunk of chocolate just might. That’s according to a new study by Dr. Karin Ried of the University of Adelaide in Australia, published in the journal BMC Medicine (www.biomedcentral.com).
“Dark chocolate and flavanol-rich cocoa products have attracted interest as an alternative treatment option for hypertension, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” the abstract states. “Previous meta-analyses concluded that cocoa-rich foods may reduce blood pressure.
“Recently, several additional trials have been conducted with conflicting results,” it continues. “Our study summarizes current evidence on the effect of flavanol-rich cocoa products on blood pressure in hypertensive and normotensive individuals.”
For the study, nine trials were conducted using 50-70% dark chocolate compared to white chocolate and other cocoa-free controls, while six trials compared high- with low-flavanol cocoa products.
The results: “Our meta-analysis suggests that dark chocolate is superior to placebo in reducing systolic hypertension or diastolic prehypertension.”
How? The flavanols contained in dark chocolate open up blood vessels in the body, allowing blood to flow more easily, dropping pressure and actually reducing one’s chance of having a heart attack or stroke by 20% over the course of the course of five years, writes Science Correspondent Richard Alleyne of The Telegraph in England.
Furthermore, The Telegraph says, the study found “that for people with hypertension, eating chocolate could reduce the blood pressure by up to 5%.” (Those with normal pressure experienced no change.)
What constitutes a “chunk” of chocolate? Six grams. However, study participants ate anywhere from a chunk to a whole bar (100 gm.). Further research will be required to determine the optimal amount of chocolate required to benefit sufferers.
In Britain, an estimated 15 million people suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, The Telegraph points out.
In the United States, one in three or 31% of adults suffers from said problem, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov).
Newspapers and blogs are all a Twitter, literally, about this finding. Both the medical community and chocolate-loving consumers long have been hailed dark chocolate for its health benefits. This news headline adds further fuel to the fire … and surely can’t hurt retail sales.
Having just received a high blood pressure reading from the doctor myself, I’m game to try anything (even a healthier diet and more exercise) to bring it down. Twist my arm: I’ll eat more chocolate, too.
Perhaps merchandising chocolate alongside apples could create a halo effect for the clichéd doc-friendly fruit. Apples might have their benefits, but they’re not as tasty as the alternative, in this editor’s opinion. But together … mmmmmm.
I think my blood pressure is dropping already.
THIS JUST IN: As a resident of Illinois, I am not so happy to hear that the state’s adult obesity rate rose to 26.6% in 2009, “nearly a full percentage point higher than the previous year,” according to today’s The Chicago Tribune. That puts us in 26th place for the entire nation, up from 27th place in 2008, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation notes in its annual report. (These stats don’t include child obesity – that’s another sad story …) The silver lining (for me, anyway): More Illinois men (27.8%) than women (25.5%) are obese.
For more information, visit www.rwjf.org, and click on “F as in Fat 2010: How the Obesity Crisis Threatens America’s Future.”
Global confectionery acquisitions pick up steam
Two significant players in the confectionery global marketplace, Lotte Group and Grupo Bimbo, added to their stable of brands with acquisitions during the past week, picking up Dulces Vero and the E.Wedel brand from Kraft, respectively.
First, on June 22, Grupo Bimbo announced it had acquired Dulces Vero, a manufacturer of sugar confections such as lollipops, gummies, caramels and marshmallows. Based in Guadalajara, Mexico, Dulces Vero posted nearly $86 million in sales last year and has a workforce of 1,500.
According to Grupo Bimbo, “The acquisition of these assets strengthens Grupo Bimpo’s position in the Mexican confectionery market through its Barcel subsidiary and furthers the company’s strategy of branching across all socio-demographic segments.
“Along with sales and cost synergies, Vero’s strength in the wholesales channel, combined with Barcel’s extensive retail distribution network, will provide a strong platform for continued growth,” the company continues.
Grupo Bimbo also emphasized that Vero’s products will complement the Barcel line of confections in the U.S. Hispanic market, thus providing an excellent opportunity for expansion there as well.
The Mexico City-based baking and snack multinational exceeded $8.6 billion in sales last year, and has 98 manufacturing plants and 600 distribution centers strategically located in 17 countries throughout the Americas and Asia.
Earlier this week, on Monday, Kraft Foods announced that it has signed an agreement to sell Cadbury’s E. Wedel branded chocolate and sugar confectionery operations in Poland to the Lotte Group, a Japanese conglomerate doing $40 billion in sales.
The sale, which was mandated by the European Commission following Kraft Foods’ acquisition of Cadbury plc, includes the E. Wedel business, related brands and a manufacturing facility in Warsaw. About 1,000 Cadbury Wedel employees will become part of the Lotte Group.
Kraft will retain other remaining Cadbury businesses in Poland, including the Halls brand, non-E. Wedel brand chocolate and sugar confections as well as two manufacturing plants in Skarbimierz. It also will keep a third Cadbury confectionery plant in Bielany Wroclawskie, Poland, subject to European Commission approval.
Bio-based gummies launch
Goody Good Stuff, a United Kingdom-based company that produces gummies made only of all- natural ingredients and a revolutionary, plant-derived bio-gum that alleviates the need for meat-based gelatin, will debut its new line at 500 Stop & Shop stores during the coming weeks in the United States. In July, the new gummie line also will appear in the United Kingdom at Booths Supermarkets, ASDA and Planet Organic, with plans for an August launch at Holland & Barrett Stores.
“After many years of research and development, we feel that the Goody Good Stuff range offers something quite unique to the sugar confectionery sector,” says Melissa Burton, director of Goody Good Stuff. “Not only do we expect the brand to become the popular treat of choice for consumers with specific dietary requirements, but we feel the ranges’ exciting flavor combinations, natural ethos and stand-out packaging will attract mainstream candy lovers while re-assuring parents who are buying treats for their kids.”
Made using pioneering techniques and the highest quality ingredients, including natural fruit and vegetable extracts for flavoring and coloring, the product line contains no artificial additives or colors. It is certified vegetarian, vegan, kosher and halal; is nut- , dairy- , gluten- and fat-free; and comes in eight flavors: Cheery Cherries, Strawberry and Cream, Cola Breeze, Sour Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruit, Koala Gummy Bears, Summer Peaches, and Sour Mix and Match.
“Although there are many conflicting opinions on the risks of gelatin made from animal by-products, for me it simply comes down to the fact that if consumers have choice between a great-tasting sweet made from natural ingredients or a candy packed with artificial flavors and gelatin made from bones, sinew and other animal by-products, I’m confident they will make the Goody Good choice,” Burton says.
“We are proud of the fact that we have been able to create a range which is completely allergen-free,” she adds. “The entire product range can be enjoyed by anyone with any allergy to gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nuts, meaning no one will be left out.”
For more information visit www.www.goodygoodstuff.com.
TV stars visit Sugar Factory
Daytime television's hottest stars indulged in a selection of sweet treats from Sugar Factory while they were in Las Vegas last Sunday for the 2010 Daytime Emmy Awards.
"Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek, Las Vegas headliner David Copperfield and actress Ashley Jones, seen on HBO's hit series "TrueBlood" and CBS's "The Bold and the Beautiful," were among the celebrities satisfying their sweet tooth with Sugar Factory's signature Couture Pop.
The night's biggest winners were also treated to Sugar Factory sweets, including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Julie Pinson from "As the World Turns;" Outstanding Younger Actor, Drew Tyler Bell from "The Bold and the Beautiful;" and Dr. Lisa Masterson from Outstanding Talk Show, "The Doctors."
A favorite stop for Hollywood's best-known stars, Sugar Factory currently has two locations in Las Vegas, at The Mirage and Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, and will debut its third location, at Paris Las Vegas, later this year.
For more information, visit www.sugarfactory.com.
Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon set for July 11
Chocolate lovers, buyers and fanatics in the Northwest will have an opportunity to experience the finest artisan, gourmet and premium chocolates at the 3rd Annual Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon, to be held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on July 11.
Participants in Seattle’s chocolate convergence will feature more than 24 chocolatiers and confectioners, including the following: Amano Artisan Chocolate, Theo Chocolate, Forte Chocolates, Intrigue Chocolates, Posh Chocolat, Chocolopolis, Carters Chocolates, Divine Chocolate, La Chatelaine Chocolat Co., Jade Chocolates, Alter Eco Fair Trade Chocolate, Sweet Decadence, The Madison Chocolatiers West, Redrim Chocolates, Taza Chocolate, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, George Paul Chocolates, Kathryn Taylor Chocolates, Eat Chocolates, Goat Milk Candy Co., See's Candies, Suess Chocolates and Missionary Chocolates.
"Seattle's large variety and selection of artisan chocolate make it a natural destination for chocolate lovers from around the world," notes Lauren Adler of Seattle-based Chocolopolis.
Dennis Haupt of Seuss Chocolates, Seattle Chocolate Salon’s 2009 Best Truffle Winner, adds, “We're looking forward to another great event.”
For more information, visit www.seattlechocolatesalon.com.
Sweet of the week: TANABAR
TANABAR chewy granola bars from Grand Isle, Vt.,-based Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, are a healthier snacking alternative. This energizing product is made in Vermont from the finest ingredients in a completely nut-free environment. It contains 6 g. of protein and is a good source of fiber. Varieties are Sweet Raisin, Triple Berry and Chocolate Chip. The suggested retail prices are $2.25 each or $24 for a box of 12.
For more information, visit www.vermontnutfree.com or call 1-888-468-8373.