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Choc Full of Benefits: Functional Chocolate Has Arrived

functional chocolate

Chocolate is sweet, worldwide, and until recently, very, very expensive. Global chocolate prices hit more than $11,000 per metric ton before recent forecasts for the world’s primary cocoa-growing regions in Africa cooled the markets, dropping the commodity’s price more than $1,700 per metric ton and bolstering many farmers’ and manufacturers’ outlooks for the summer season ahead.

Despite the recent cooldown, cocoa prices are still up nearly 70% year-over-year and 137% over the past 12 months. And for sweet-tooths who call New York home, chocolate ain’t cheap – per a recent study from Couponbirds, New Yorkers pay the most for chocolate (roughly 20% more than the national average).

So if you’re enjoying a chocolate candy bar or rich, ganache-laced truffle, you might as well enjoy some outsize bodily benefits from it.

Because functional chocolate is here.

Low Fat, High Function

Chocolate is one of those superfoods that provides a slew of benefits in addition to being very, very good (provided you’re not allergic to it). Its antioxidants can increase heart health by lowering blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting, and increase blood flow to the heart, which in turn lowers the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and even death from heart disease.

Everything in moderation, of course, but chocolate has long been known to not only erode your teeth, but bolster your overall health in small, acute, and quantifiable ways.

“We believe that treating your health should be a treat,” said Chris Peruzzi and Nicole Smith to The Food Institute. Peruzzi and Smith are co-founders of The Functional Chocolate Company, whose bars are sold at health-forward stores such as The Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements.

“Once customers understand that there are options to address everyday health realities in a format that is more than just tolerable, but enjoyable, there’s no reason to go back to bitter tinctures or hard-to-swallow capsules,” they said.

Some industry insiders feel healthy fats natural to chocolate are ideal delivery vehicles for supplemental health benefits.

Peruzzi said the company’s chocolate is infused with condition-specific nutraceuticals like vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and amino acids to help everyday people address everyday maladies from low energy and high stress to poor sleep and shattered focus. The bars are also vegan and gluten-free, further opening the market to those with dietary restrictions.

The World Health Organization recently noted that anxiety is the most common health concern worldwide, and for Peruzzi and Smith, it makes sense that their Mellow Mint Truffle Carefree Chocolate bar is one of their best sellers. They also have a sleep-friendly bar called Sleepy Chocolate, which uses Valerian root, a safe extract to aid sleep that has been used for centuries.

“It’s worth noting that Valerian smells and tastes absolutely awful,” they said, adding that one of the breakthroughs of their sleep bar is to deliver a stellar taste profile without experiencing the underlying bitterness of the extract.

“Not compromising taste or effectiveness has definitely been one of the challenges of developing this type of functional offering,” Peruzzi said.


The Food Institute Podcast

Corn stocks, poultry flocks, and highly-pathogenic avian influenza – what does the U.S. agricultural system look like amid inflation and other headwinds? Wells Fargo Chief Agricultural Economist Dr. Michael Swanson discussed specialty crops, grain plantings, and what to expect in the growing year to come.