Oh, For The Love of Chocolate!

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many of us will be tempted to indulge in the wonderful treat known as chocolate. Perhaps the following information will take some of the guilt away from indulging in the joys of chocolate but remember moderation is key.

Health Benefits – Yes! Chocolate can be healthy if you choose the right brands and consume in moderation. Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which contain flavonoids, the same kind of beneficial plant compounds that are found in fruit and veggies, red wine and green tea. Research has shown that flavonoids may have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Other studies have linked chocolate consumption to reduced blood pressure, enhanced blood vessel function and improved cholesterol levels. Not to mention, chocolate’s mood-boosting effect!

But…there’s always a but…it should be noted that these protective health effects have been seen primarily with dark (not milk) chocolate, as dark varieties tend to have a higher proportion of flavonoids. The way chocolate is processed can have a lot to do with how much flavonoid content is retained.

It’s also important to remember, all chocolate has high levels of fat and calories. The fat in chocolate can account for 50-75% of its total calories, most of which is saturated fat from cocoa butter.

Following are some caloric values for different types of chocolate:                     Unsweetened cocoa/66 calories w/ 3.9g of fat – baking chocolate/142 calories w/ 14.1g of fat – sweet dark chocolate 136 calories w/ 8.5g of fat – milk chocolate/ 152 calories w/ 8.4g of fat – white chocolate/162 calories w/ 9.1g of fat

So choose wisely! Remember, although a little chocolate may be good for you, a lot of chocolate is not better. If you’ll be indulging your love for chocolate, remember to compensate for the extra calories by cutting out other high calorie foods and/or exercise a lot more. And, certainly, go for quality rather than quantity.

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