More and more research suggests that certain types of chocolate have heart-healthy properties. In honor of National Chocolate Day (yes, there is such a thing!), a Kaiser Permanente nutritionist makes the following recommendations for celebrating in a delicious, guilt-free way:
Select the least processed products with the highest cocoa content. Look on the label, the more cocoa the better! Varieties with a minimum of 70 percent cocoa content provide the most heart-healthy properties.
Try to avoid large quantities of milk and white chocolate – the milk in these products may actually interfere with antioxidant absorption and negate the healthful benefits of the cocoa.
Visit an organic grocer to sample a variety of fruit-infused dark chocolate offerings. Fruit covered or fruit filled dark chocolates like dark chocolate dipped strawberries and bananas may help you get to your “5-a-day” fruits and veggies goal.
Think twice about sugar-free chocolates. Sugar-free chocolates sometimes contain more fat and calories than regular chocolate products because they replace the sugar with oil or butter. Instead of sugar-free chocolates, choose an intense, high-quality dark chocolate, which tends to be so flavorful you can get by with eating less. Try pairing high-quality chocolate with a handful of dried fruits and/or almonds for extra health benefits and flavor.