Heart Chocolate – Friend or Foe?by Karen Vieira, MBA, PhD | January 20, 2008
There is a new chocolate bar on the market called “Heart Chocolate” that claims to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. The secret behind this healthy chocolate is said to be a mixture of bitter melon and cinnamon (CM-X). Supposedly if you eat three portions throughout the day it controls your cravings while benefiting your cardiovascular system with the anti-inflammatory properties in the chocolate. Sounds like a ridiculously big claim for a sixty calories chocolate bar! The makers also claim that type-2 diabetics can eat it too since it is sugar free.
Bitter melon has been utilized for its pharmaceutical benefits since the 16th century offering patients a natural anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-cancer treatment. In studies on animals, bitter melon has been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in modest amounts and reduce insulin resistance. Cinnamon has been used throughout history for the treatment of diabetes by traditional Chinese, Russian and Indian herbalists. OK, with all that said, can some bitter melon and cinnamon extracts really reduce cholesterol and blood sugar significantly? I really doubt it that they can put enough in a sixty calorie portion to have this effect without it tasting really bitter (because bitter melon isn’t called bitter for no reason).
There are a lot of problems with this product, aside from the fact that the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements like this and therefore they claim whatever they want without having good science to back it up. It has been shown that artificial sweeteners actually contribute to the high blood sugar problems of diabetics through several mechanisms, so how can this chocolate bar with artificial sweeteners be lowering blood sugar levels. Sounds like a stretch to me.
My only hope is that the makers of this product are morally responsible enough to properly market this product as the dietary supplement that it is, rather than as a chocolate bar that anyone can eat. Unfortunately, supplements are often sold in the grocery stores amongst the other normal products on the shelf, like how “Smart Balance” is hidden in the butter section as if it is butter or margarine when really it is a supplement. So be on the lookout for this new heart supplement disguised as a chocolate bar next to your Milky Way and Mars bars!
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