A German confectioner says it has developed the first chocolate capable of countering the ageing process and making people feel happy.
Hamburg-based Adolf Andersen states on its website that Felice chocolates, the 'first anti-ageing praline', 'keep one young and make one happy'.
The company has carried out no scientific trials to support the claims, sales person Gabi Kraeft told NutraIngredients.com, despite enlisting the help of Dr Michael Kentze from the Kentze Institute for Age Prevention Medicine in Munich to develop the product.
However each chocolate contains 300mg of polyphenols, chemicals found in cocoa and thought to be powerful antioxidants that could fight the ageing process. Chocolate has also long been associated with feelings of well-being, attributed to its high levels of phenylethylamine.
But proving chocolate's mood-altering action is difficult and claims stating this effect look set to be banned under new European regulation on health and nutrition claims, published as a draft proposal by the European Commission earlier this month.
Other health benefits have more evidence, particularly its effects on heart health. A review of the science behind chocolate by researchers at the University of California at Davis in the US supported the theory that flavan-3-ols, the main flavonoids found in cocoa, are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Reporting in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the researchers also said that cocoa contains the same nutrients found in other plant foods, including minerals and specific antioxidants that help ward off diseases such as heart disease.
While nutritionists are concerned by the promotion of foods considered to be unhealthy, and EU Health Commissioner David Byrne promises to assess the nutritional profile of foods making nutrition and health claims, the mainstream confectionery sector is certainly using demand for functional foods to add value to stagnant sales.
Since Cadbury's added the energy-giving ingredient guarana to its Boost bar, dextrose has been added to the Milka brand to create Milka Energy and most recently Germany's Alfred Ritter has launched an energy-giving line, Active Crunch, within its Ritter Sport range. Food company Masterfoods has also announced it is introducing an energy-boosting variant of its Snickers bar.
Adolf Andersen has certainly tapped into a growing market, and with orders from around Europe within two months of the Felice launch, it could be on to a winning recipe. The company already has plans to develop further healthy products with its Kentze partnership, Kraeft said.