SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – A new type of “nutritional” chocolate bar that claims to improve heart health may have a hard time living up to the promise.

The WineTime Bar is the first snack bar to contain resveratrol, a potent antioxidant found in grapes. Lab studies suggest resveratrol can protect cells from free radical damage, inhibit the spread of cancer and improve elasticity in blood vessels.

Resvez, the bar’s Rancho Santa Fe-based manufacturer, said the WineTime Bar is a delicious snack that is anti-aging and can improve heart health. Each WineTime Bar contains more resveratrol than 50 glasses of red wine—without the alcohol. In addition, the company points to seven other ingredients that can boost health, including super fruits cranberry, noni, pomegranite, gogiberry, acai, mangosteen and blueberry.

But some in the medical community are greeting the bar’s claims with skepticism.

“I would call this a candy bar with lots of additional claims built onto it,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, editor in chief of the Berkeley Wellness Letter.

Swartzberg, a self-proclaimed chocolate lover, sampled the bar and pronounced it tasty. But he labeled the health claims “all marketing hype,” saying there’s no evidence to show the WineTime Bar is a health food. He added that we really don’t know much about resveratrol.

“We’ve seen some really exciting things in the laboratory that show its effect on genes—how they unfold and fold, and how they may relate to aging. However, all that’s in the laboratory” he said. Swartzberg went on to point out there is no clinical data supporting the notion that consuming a lot of resveratrol makes people healthier, live longer or live better. He said that’s where the gap is between interesting basic science in the test tube, and what happens in human beings.

Despite the skepticism, WineTime bars are generating enthusiasm among some Bay Area residents.

Lila Marley already takes resveratrol and acai, so she was happy to try a bite of the new bar while shopping recently at The Berkeley Bowl.

“I like that you can taste the little bits of fruit in it and the dark chocolate,” Marley said. She said it was a little sweet for her tastes and was quick to check the label for sugar content. “Seventeen grams of sugar, so that would be my concern about it,” but added she liked the bar well enough to finish it.

Robert Carrol, another Berkeley Bowl shopper, was intrigued by the new bar. “I’ve heard of this antioxidant (resveratrol). It’s supposed to be the new anti-aging miracle thing.” He took a bite and said it was pretty good, not bad. “It tastes like fig almost, and chocolate.”

Carrol, 28, Thought the WineTime Bar is worth a shot, even at $2.99 a bar. “It’s a good value for a bar, and if it can add a little bit of youth to me, why not?”

But Swartzberg argued that if you want to be healthy, you need to eat healthy food—real fruits and vegetables. He said real clinical data shows the best diet “is based upon fruits and vegetables, not on little bits and pieces of these fruits and vegetables that are put together in capsules and bars.”

As for chocolate, Swartzberg said it may provide some heart health benefits. He said you should choose darker chocolate, which have more flavonoids.

But even if it is rich in flavonoids, chocolate’s hefty calories mean it is still best viewed as a treat, not a health food. Here too, fruits and vegetables are a better source of flavonoids on a daily basis. They have fewer calories and an abundance of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (2)
  1. Vinny Grette says:

    17 grams of sugar is a crime in a health food. What are they thinking?

  2. Gregory Ross, Ph.D. says:

    Kim says “you can buy a lot of fruits and veggies for $2.99.” When was the last time she shopped in a supermarket? Check Safeway On-Line, for example. Other than cabbage anbd potatoes, what fresh produce is affordable for people who do not have her income? And where in the world does this “fresh” produce come from?

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