Research Finds Flavanols in Cocoa May Help Treat Diabetes, Strokes and Dementia

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Mars, Incorporated Has Synthesized Flavanol Molecules, Is In Discussions with Pharma Companies to Develop New Medicines

Lucerne, Switzerland, July 25, 2005 – Molecules in cocoa credited for the “heart-healthy” benefits of certain cocoa and dark chocolate may also in the future help treat diabetes, strokes and vascular dementia, and could soon be available to pharmaceutical companies for development into new medications, scientists said Monday.

Opening a two-day meeting in Switzerland, researchers said their findings point toward a potential major new class of medications, based on novel synthesized flavanols, to help prevent or treat serious illnesses. “The mounting scientific evidence on cocoa flavanols is extraordinary,” said Dr. Norm Hollenberg, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and one of the first researchers to identify the potential health benefits of cocoa flavanols. “This is a scientific breakthrough that could well lead to a medical breakthrough.”

Additionally, Mars scientists have discovered that cocoa flavanols, as well as other types of flavanols, can be synthesized, enhancing their feasibility for use in pharmaceutical medications.

The research was discussed among scientists from around the world at a meeting convened by Mars, Incorporated, which has supported cocoa research

for more than 15 years. The company confirmed that it is holding serious discussions with large pharmaceutical companies for a licensing or joint venture agreement that could enable certain of these compounds to be developed as prescription drugs.

“Our company has a heritage of highly regarded research in nutrition and health science, through partnerships with some of the world’s finest scientists and universities,” said Dr. Harold Schmitz, Chief Science Officer for Mars. “This science is now moving beyond nutrition toward the research and development of important health care solutions.”

Added Schmitz, “Because Mars is a privately held company, we have the freedom to make the long-term research commitments that help to deliver truly innovative results.”

This meeting gave the opportunity for scientists from around the world, who are working independently on different cocoa flavanol research programs, to share their findings in a peer-review setting. Much of the research offered new insight into the positive potential impact that cocoa flavanols may have on serious illnesses like dementia, diabetes, inflammation and stroke. This research builds upon the more than 80 peer-reviewed publications that have covered chemistry, test tube and clinical research on cocoa flavanols.

Mars has been actively exploring effective ways of making flavanols available in nutritional foods. On June 30, the company announced creation of a new business unit, Mars Nutrition for Health & Well-Being, which is dedicated to the development of new foods, snacks, beverages and lifestyle support to better serve the nutritional and well-being needs of consumers.

Mars Nutrition for Health & Well-Being has already launched its first great-tasting

nutrition bar called CocoaViaä, available online at With 80 calories per serving and a nutrition profile that combines heart healthy ingredients, vitamins and minerals with a premium chocolate, rich in the natural flavanols preserved by a special process, it is the only global brand purposely designed to deliver both chocolate pleasure and real heart health benefits. CocoaViaä will be followed by a number of food solutions targeting a variety of nutritional needs and benefits in the months to come.