Ah chocolate…you’ve probably heard that eating chocolate can be beneficial to your health but scoffed at the idea, as life can’t be that good, but it is! February is heart health month so love your heart by treating it to some dark chocolate or by enjoying the last two weeks of Vancouver’s 6th annual Hot Chocolate Festival on Family Day.
Not all chocolate is created equal, so look for these criteria when grabbing your next treat:
- 60% cocoa
- Made from cocoa butter instead of fats such as palm and coconut oils
- Made without the use of ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oils
The benefits of dark chocolate:
- Lots of antioxidants; specifically the phytochemical flavonoid, which is also found in tea, red wine, and various fruits and vegetables. But be aware that milk chocolate does not contain any flavonoids as the milk binds to the antioxidant making them unavailable
- Heart health – decreases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increases blood flow in our arteries and heart
- Great source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron
Unfortunately, eating too much chocolate, like any high-calorie snack, can have harmful effects, but the research strongly suggests a potential health benefit from regular consumption of dark, flavanol-rich chocolate as part of a healthful diet. How much? Up to 7 ounces per week. And sorry Mom - white chocolate doesn't count!
For a great February heart healthy snack try this easy on the go smoothie:
Beet Red Velvet Smoothie
In a blender combine a ½ medium raw beet, washed and peeled, a couple of dates for sweetness, raw cacao powder, frozen strawberries, milk, vanilla extract and some hemp seeds.