IT has become a common Christmas over-indulgence and while reputed to be an aphrodisiac, one thing chocolate has never been accused of is being healthy.
But in a perfectly timed Christmas miracle one local company has finally developed the holy grail for chocolate lovers – a version of their favourite treat that can actually help them live longer.
Research carried out by Queen Margaret University has found that products made by Edinburgh-based The Chocolate Tree boast naturally-occurring polyphenols that can lower the risk of heart disease.
Dr Mary Warnock, senior lecturer in dietetics, nutrition, and biological sciences at QMU, said: “Polyphenols actively work in the body to prevent certain disease mechanisms occurring.
“Polyphenols are antioxidants from plant foods and it is generally believed that they may reduce the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and can help protect the body from chronic disease.”
The Chocolate Tree, launched four years ago, is based on Bruntsfield Place, but also has a kitchen in Haddington. The Scottish producer’s artisan chocolates are made using cocoa beans from Madagascar, Ecuador and Peru, with the production process designed to retain the raw, natural ingredients of chocolate.
Chocolate Tree owner Alastair Gower said: “We always knew that we created a high-quality product, but we needed to prove it. Queen Margaret University was able to provide scientific evidence of the antioxidant profile and mineral content of our organic certified ‘bean-to-bar’ range.”
However, the findings published yesterday come with one catch for chocolate lovers – the nutritional side affects only apply when the premium product is eaten as part of a balanced diet.
QMU lead academic for food and drink, Dr Jane McKenzie, said the challenge over the festive period still remained eating in “moderation”.