07/27/2012 03:39 pm ET

Barry Callebaut One Step Closer To Making Health Claim For Chocolate In Europe

Chocolate is almost officially a "health food" in Europe.

Chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut received approval from the European Food Safety Authority to say that chocolate compounds are beneficial for blood circulation, the Wall Street Journal reported. Now, the European Commission will have to give the final OK before the company is able to use the health claims.

Barry Callebaut is the chocolate and cocoa supplier to Nestle and Hershey, Reuters reported.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that Barry Callebaut was able to show that 200 milligrams of the chocolate compounds, called cocoa flavanols, have beneficial effects on blood circulation.

"Every food company would like to have products presenting a health benefit and if you receive a health claim it helps you differentiate from competitors," Patrick Hasenboehler, an analyst, told Dow Jones Newswires.

For the full report, click over to the Wall Street Journal.

Dark chocolate and certain compounds in chocolate have been shown in numerous studies to be beneficial for health. Recent research from San Diego State University showed that eating dark chocolate in moderation has positive effects in lowering blood sugar levels and "bad" cholesterol levels, and increasing "good" cholesterol levels -- all of which could have positive effects on heart health.

Plus, a study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine showed that frequent chocolate-eaters have lower body mass indexes (BMIs, a ratio of weight to height) than people who eat chocolate more rarely.

And a study last year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that eating as many as two candy bars worth of chocolate per week is linked with a lower stroke risk in women.

But keep in mind that chocolate also comes with fat and calories -- so make sure to keep your chocolate consumption in moderation.

For more health benefits of chocolate, click through the slideshow:

  • 1 It Reduces Stroke Risk
    A 2011 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than women who treated themselves to fewer than 9 grams of the sweet stuff.
  • 2 It Boosts Heart Health
    Matija Puhek/500px
    Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One of the reasons dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy is its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk.
  • 3 It Fills You Up
    Kohei Hara via Getty Images
    Because it's rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you'll eat less, Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and HuffPost blogger told The Huffington Post. Regular chocolate eaters might do themselves a favor by treating themselves to a bite instead of snacking on "11 other things first" he said. Dark chocolate does the trick much better than milk, according to a small study from the University of Copenhagen, and may even reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
  • 4 It May Fight Diabetes
    Julie Thompson
    A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes.
  • 5 It Protects Your Skin
    Katerina Nanopoulou via Alamy
    Forget what you've heard about chocolate causing breakouts: Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin. The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. And no, that does not mean you can skip the sunscreen!
  • 6 It Can Quiet Coughs
    Andrew Harding via Jupiter Images
    Can't stop coughing? An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs. In late 2010, the BBC reported that scientists were investigating creating a drug containing theobromine to preplace cough syrups containing codeine, which can have risky side effects.
  • 7 It Boosts Your Mood
    There's no denying that indulging your sweet tooth every once in a while feels great. Enjoying food is part of enjoying life, points out HuffPost Healthy Living's wellness editor, Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. Chocolate eaters also report feeling less stressed.
  • 8 It Improves Blood Flow
    Lisa Capretto/OWN
    Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin, Dr. Fitzgerald writes, which can improve blood flow and circulation.
  • 9 It Improves Vision
    Jamie Grill via Getty Images
    Because of chocolate's ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.
  • 10 It May Make You Smarter
    Getty Images
    That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa's flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.