Harvard Heart Letter

Take two candy bars and call me in the morning?

Adding plant sterols and flavanols to chocolate doesn't make candy bars a health food.

Sweet, rich, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate has always been something of a guilty pleasure for people with high cholesterol or those following a heart-healthy diet. The high-calorie combination of fat and sugar makes chocolate one of those "use sparingly" foods confined to the teeny tip of food pyramids.

But what if chocolate delivered substances that are good for the heart? Would that transform it into a health food you could eat with gusto? That's what Mars, the maker of M&M's, Snickers, Dove bars, and other sweet treats is hoping you'll think. The company has rolled out CocoaVia, a line of seven chocolates laced with plant sterols and flavanols for what Mars calls "real chocolate pleasure, real heart health benefits." Other companies are sure to follow with their own versions of supposedly good-for-the-heart chocolates.

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