Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth the Healthy Way

Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 12:28pm
Senior Clinical Dietitian

If you’re looking for a sweet treat for your Valentine this week, look no further than dark chocolate. Of course dark chocolate tastes good. It’s chocolate! But it may also be good for your heart.

There are published studies that suggest dark chocolate – not milk or white – may aid in the prevention of heart disease.  It is believed the flavonoids in cocoa may provide this benefit. It may also help to increase HDL, the good cholesterol, and decrease blood pressure; however, more studies are necessary to validate this benefit.

Too Much of a Good Thing

But don’t take that as an excuse to indulge this Valentine’s Day! Chocolate is calorie dense, meaning it has a lot of calories in a small amount.  Therefore, too much may lead to excessive weight gain, which is not healthy.

If you want to include chocolate in your diet for the potential health benefit, less is more.  Studies have shown possible benefit from a serving size as small as five grams – about the size of a Hershey Kiss®. 

Look for Cocoa

The higher the percentage of cocoa in the dark chocolate, the greater the potential health benefits. Seventy percent or more of cocoa is preferred. Look for cacao as the first ingredient instead of sugar.

Skip the Milk

Also, milk may interfere with the absorption of the flavonoids in dark chocolate, so you should avoid pairing them together.