That special day of celebrating with chocolate (aka Valentine’s Day) will soon be upon us. Some will receive chocolate as a gift. Others will buy a box of it for themselves. With a bit of effort and creativity, we might even create a chocolate treat in our own kitchen.
Is Chocolate a Health Food?
The health benefits of dark chocolate are well known. According to The Nutrition Source (a Harvard publication), the flavanols found in dark chocolate fight inflammation and help to lower blood pressure. These flavanols also seem to reduce diabetes risk by helping our body to use the insulin we produce more efficiently. The 70% or higher dark chocolate contains the most flavanols.
Will I Get the Same Health Benefits by Eating Milk Chocolate?
In a word, “NO”. The sweet, creamy goodness of milk chocolate means that the flavanols have been diluted by the addition of sugar and milk. While a serving of milk chocolate is fine as a treat, it does NOT offer the same health benefits as its darker, bitter-flavored relative.
Heavily processed chocolate-flavored items such as chocolate cereals, instant cocoa mixes and packaged chocolate cakes do not even belong in this discussion. They offer NO health benefits.
A Dark Chocolate Dessert to Make at Home
This Valentine’s Day try making chocolate avocado pudding. The dark chocolate and the cocoa powder provide flavanols and the avocado adds potassium, antioxidants and heart healthy fats.
Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Adapted from: loveonetoday.com
2 large ripe avocados (peeled with pits removed), cut into small cubes
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons of honey
½ teaspoon of vanilla
Milk or nut milk (optional)
Place all ingredients (except milk) into food processor or blender
Blend on high speed until smooth, stirring occasionally
Taste and add more honey if needed
If a thinner pudding is desired, add a small amount of milk at this point
Portion out into individual small bowls
Chill for one hour to set
If desired, top with berries
Written by: Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN