<!–[CDATA[Valentine’s Day is upon us and many people may be wondering what to buy the one they admire. A box of chocolates is often a received gift, but tends to have a negative connotation for some. Too much fat, sugar and the possibility of weight gain are just a few concerns people have with chocolate. However, the Cleveland Clinic has unveiled some heart health benefits of dark chocolate. Let’s rethink chocolate this Valentine’s Day
The advantages of eating dark chocolates are small, but enough to satisfy the sweet tooth in all of us. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids as well as antioxidants. Flavanol is a specific type of flavonoid which has great anti-inflammatory effects, that is specifically found in cocoa, giving it its pungent taste. The antioxidants in dark chocolate help our bodies resist cell damage. Both flavanol and antioxidants have several health benefits including positive influences on heart health, assisting in decreasing blood pressure and also improving blood flow to the brain. Keep in mind that not all forms of chocolate have high levels of flavanols. The more a chocolate is processed, the more flavonoids are removed. It is always best to choose dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate to truly absorb its heart healthy benefits. Remember, moderation is key; 1 oz. of dark chocolate four times a week should satisfy the sweet tooth in all of us and provide some heart healthy benefits.
Five Star Quick Tip: To add even more nutrients to your Valentine’s Day gift, look for dark chocolate covered strawberries. Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins which have a positive effect on blood pressure as well as providing antioxidant protection, and not to mention are an excellent source of Vitamin C!
Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Valentine’s Day!
Annette Catalfano, RDN