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Dark Chocolate fondue

Yes, this Dark Chocolate fondue is good for you...in moderation and shared with others!

Chocolate for Health!

Even if you’ve heard the news about chocolate and heart-health before, it still sounds almost too good to be true, right?

Halloween is near, and as our collective thoughts turn to sweets, it’s nice to know there are sweet treats out there that can also boost health.

Before we all get too excited, keep in mind 2 big caveats in order to truly reap the benefits of enjoying chocolate for health:

  1. Adding chocolate to your diet must be done isocalorically (a fancy way of saying, “without increasing how many calories you eat for the entire day”).
  2. Choose dark chocolate (sorry, but the milk, sugar, and other fats in some varieties cancel out possible benefits).

Now that that’s out of the way, on the to the good stuff.

  • Dark chocolate is a plant-food, and is one of our richest natural sources of flavonoids, which is a class of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) found in cocoa, tea, wine, and some fruits and vegetables. In chocolate, they’re often called “cocoa flavanols”.
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  • Cocoa flavanols help keep blood vessels healthy and flexible, which promotes good circulation for optimal oxygen and nutrient flow through the body. When our bodies run better, we also feel better.
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  • Some studies have shown that non-Dutch process cocoa can undo some of the damage to blood vessel lining (called the “endothelium”) caused by smoking. The Dutch-process treats cocoa with alkali for a milder flavor with less bitterness, but also destroys some of the heart-healthy flavanols.
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  • Flavanoids act like antioxidants to reduce LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and to increase HDL (“good cholesterol”).
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  • Some studies show that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure, though the effects are nothing to write home about. Potassium-rich, sodium-poor fruits and vegetables will do a better job on blood pressure, but a little dark chocolate now and then won’t hurt.
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  • European and American studies found that dark chocolate may cut down on one of the steps in blood clot formation. Blood clots in important arteries can cause heart attacks and strokes.

For healthier ways to indulge in dark chocolate, why not make dark chocolate-covered strawberries, or chocolate-covered pineapple pieces; dip fruit in dark chocolate fondue, sprinkle cocoa powder into your coffee, or indulge in a 1-ounce portion of your favorite (dark) chocolate bar. For the most flavanoids, go for the darkest chocolate that your palate still enjoys and keep an eye out for over the top added-sugars (for a sweet treat, I like to keep it around the 10g neighborhood).

Here are some of my favorites from around the store:

Here’s to putting a little more happy into your Halloween!  For more of my food tips (all with great savings!), check out my Healthy Living for Less section.

Do you enjoy Dark Chocolate? Do you like it plain, in fondue form, or covering fruit? Let us know on the FreshDirect Facebook page or via Twitter (@FreshDirect).

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