February is American Heart Health Month, a long running campaign organised by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). This campaign is as important as ever with cardiovascular (CVD) and heart disease still amongst the leading causes of death in both the United States and Europe. Cardiovascular and heart disease affects people from all geographies, despite being one of the most preventable diseases.
Certain risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, low physical activity, obesity or alcohol and tobacco consumption dramatically increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Adopting healthier habits can significantly reduce the risk. So if you want to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, then quitting smoking, moderating alcohol consumption and staying physically active are great choices to make. And importantly, a balanced diet can also help prevent conditions that lead to heart disease.
Is chocolate healthy?
A balanced and wholesome diet can all lead to reducing heart disease risks. However, not all healthier choices are as obvious, and sometimes even small compounds can make a noticeable impact. This is the case with bioactives, chemical compounds found in food that support good health. As an example, cocoa is a rich source of the bioactive compounds called polyphenols. These polyphenol compounds are plant based micronutrients with potential health benefits, including the protection against chronic diseases. Common polyphenol micronutrients include flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids and coumarins. Flavonoids account for around 60% of all polyphenols and can be found in foods like berries, apples, and onions but also in cocoa, the main component of everyone’s February favourite – chocolate!
Too much of a good thing?
So how much chocolate can we eat to get these bioactive health benefits without affecting our waistlines, and how much is too much? A good way of answering these questions accurately is by initially combining consumption survey data paired with applying advanced probabilistic modelling to understand the intakes of various bioactive compounds in detail. One of the critical steps required here is to use verifiable data to inform food companies and consumers about the health benefits of a product based on data driven information
This is where Creme Global comes in
Creme Global has access to world class dietary data sources, which enables our customers to calculate daily intakes of various compounds within many different populations. A good example of putting this data and expertise to use is the BACCHUS project. The main objective for this European Framework funded project was to set in place best practice guidelines for reviewing EFSA’s (European Food Safety Authority) approach to health claims and establishing solid guidelines for the project partners which consists of 26 EU partners. The health claim focus was on the effects of polyphenols and bioactive peptides on cardiovascular health.