Chocolate is typically not part of a heart-healthy diet. But what if
chocolate delivered substances that are good for the heart? Mars, the
maker of M&M’s and other sweet treats, is rolling out CocoaVia, a
line of chocolates laced with plant sterols and flavanols for what Mars
calls “real chocolate pleasure, real heart health benefits.” But
there’s a big catch, reports the Harvard Heart Letter.
plant sterols can lower cholesterol, and flavanols may keep healthy
arteries flexible. But you must eat two portions of CocoaVia every day
to get the amounts necessary to do this. That means a daily dose of
sterols and flavanols comes with an extra 200 calories and 36% of the
daily recommended limit for saturated fat. If you don’t cut back 200
calories somewhere else — or walk an extra 45 minutes — that would
translate into a 20- pound weight gain over the course of a year.
That’s more than enough to counteract any benefits from sterols and
The Harvard Heart Letter
notes that there are easier ways to get plant sterols and flavanols.
Since sterols must be taken every day in a fixed dose to reap their
benefit, it makes sense to buy them in capsule form. Capsules don’t
deliver extra calories or saturated fat. You can get flavanols from
tea, apples, raspberries, red wine, and other foods, or from flavanol
The bottom line: CocoaVia may nudge the guilt out of eating chocolate, but it isn’t a health food, says the Harvard Heart Letter.