It’s February, the month of LOVE, and yes romance is in the air! Valentine’s Day is a special day for lovebirds, but one day is far too short a time for all the romance of February. Why not show your significant other your love and concern for their heart health by giving them (and you) the gift of love: dark chocolate! February is Heart Health Month which calls attention to the fact that heart disease is the #1 killer of women (and men) in the United States. Take care of your heart and tap into the heart-healthy power of eating dark chocolate to garner the healing power of this fabulous powerhouse food. Here’s what you need to know about dark chocolate:
The scientific evidence is stacking up linking daily consumption of deep, dark chocolate with phenomenal health benefits. Flavonoids (the active ingredient in dark chocolate) work as potent antioxidants to protect us from free radical damage, the process which accelerates aging and promotes chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
When it comes to choosing chocolate for health, the chocolate must be the flavonoid-rich dark variety. This is because dark chocolate has a much higher percentage of cocoa than milk chocolate and it’s the cocoa that contains most of the flavonoids—plant substances which provide your body with a host of health benefits.
When concocting your own chocolate goodies, use natural unsweetened dark cocoa powder. If going for a bar, choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Look at the ingredient list and make sure the first ingredient is cocoa or chocolate and not sugar.
Some tips for getting in your daily dose of chocolate medicine: Order a dark chocolate dessert with a cup of espresso and savor just a few bites; bring your own pre-wrapped squares of dark chocolate and enjoy with a cup of tea (for example, Ghirardelli makes “Intense Dark 86% Cacao Singles).
European-style Thick Soy Cocoa (recipe from Dr. Janet’s book: Blood Pressure Down)
Thick and rich, this soy cocoa is good morning, noon, or night.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups vanilla soy milk
In a saucepan mix cocoa, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Whisk in 1 cup soy milk to make a thick paste and to dissolve the dry ingredients. This will look like thick chocolate frosting. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup soy milk until smooth. Place over low heat and stir until steaming and thick. Do not boil. Serve hot.
Yield 2 cups
Nutrition per 1/2 cup serving
Calories: 137 kcal
Sodium: 71 mg
Potassium: 330 mg
Magnesium: 85 mg
Calcium: 37 mg
Fat: 4 g (EPA 0g, DHA 0g, ALA 0g)
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 24 g
Dietary fiber: 5 g
Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 8 g
This February, do all things with love and love yourself (and your significant other) by eating a little daily dose of dark chocolate!