Superchocolate: Can chocolate really be a functional food?

By Emma Jane Cash

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/G-StockStudio
© iStock/G-StockStudio

Related tags Nutrition Snack

A chocolate bar containing 33% pure refined turmeric has been launched into the global functional foods market, as a convenient and enjoyable way to increase daily dosage of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric.

Chocumin is launching a Kickstarter campaign​ to raise funds that will be put towards the manufacturing process of the functional chocolate bar.

Available in white, milk or dark varieties, each chocumin piece contains 1000mg of curcumin - the equivalent of 60 500mg turmeric capsules - and has the style of Swiss chocolate.

Chocumin is made in the same manufacturing process as standard chocolate, with pepper and curcumin added.

The healing powers of curcumin

Curcumin is used in pharmaceuticals, food products, cosmetics and others © iStock.
Curcumin is used in pharmaceuticals, food products, cosmetics and others © iStock.

Turmeric has suggested health benefits, combating health problems such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, brain disease, cancer and heart disease.

However, large amounts of turmeric need to be consumed in order to benefit from their health properties; the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 1,200 to 1,800mg daily.

Kate Branch, co-founder of Chocumin, says that despite the health benefits of turmeric, the challenge has been getting it into our diet, saying it is not “practical”​.

Currently, turmeric is widely available in formats including cut root, powdered root, standardized power, fluid extract and tincture.

Curcumin is a popular ingredient for supplements in the Western market and forecasts expect it to grow further.

Piece of Chocumin
The pieces are individually wrapped © Chocumin 

The chocolate also contains black pepper and moringa, the brand say this is to aide absorption of the curcumin and to boost the anti-inflammatory benefits.

“Since turmeric is best absorbed faster in the body and nutrient pipeline with heat, fat and pepper, Chocumin includes black pepper and natural fats from the chocolate,” ​Branch said, adding this is why turmeric is normally consumed in curry dishes.

The brand was founded by three women, Kate Branch from Australia, Nhi Dinh and Ms Hoa, both from Vietnam.

The turmeric is grown on farms based in Vietnam, where it is then refined and used to produce chocumin.

It is one of only six Vietnamese based companies approved by the FDA.

No emotional attachment means no bingeing

Chocumin say its product does not have the “emotional attachment… you’d experience from regular chocolate”, ​and its purpose is to act as a supplement pill rather than an indulgent snack.

The tins come in varying sizes and varieties. © Chocumin
The tins come in varying sizes and varieties. © Chocumin

Branch said: “when we typically eat chocolate, it’s usually connected to an emotional state related to an incident i.e. happy, sad, excited, anxious… that can result is us eating the whole bar or box, and the subsequent weight gain guilt that follows in an ongoing cycle… Chocumin isn’t branded or marketed this way”.

This is why each piece of chocumin is individually wrapped, according to the brand, and stops consumers from overindulging in the chocolate.

“[Consumers] are not binge eating but actually now looking forward to their daily piece. Chocumin will not replace conventional, typical chocolate but is designed to raise the bar in making chocolate: a) more healthy; and b) curb the cravings in a new fashion,” ​Branch added.

3 Mothers Founders
Kate Branch, Nhi Dinh and Ms Hoa, founders of Chocumin. © Chocumin

The chocolate carries much higher price tag than regular chocolate bars, with prices ranging from €9.4 ($10) for a box of six, to €68 ($72) for a box of 36.

Branch says this is because the product is marketed as a “high-end, healthy brand versus a standard market ‘quick sugar fix’ cheaper confectionary”.

The chocolates will be available to purchase in varying tin sizes on the brand's website shortly, and are now readily available via the Kickstarter page.

Each 8 g piece of chocumin has 37 calories, 1.8 g of fat and 1.9 g of total sugars.

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