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.
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: