Healthy Chocolate for Your Valentine

Let’s face it. We’re all going to eat chocolate for
Valentine’s Day. But there’s no need to feel guilty!
Chocolate is actually good for you…it’s all the things added
to it that are the problem. Here’s how you can choose
delicious healthy chocolates for your Valentine.

HEALTH BENEFITS

The gift of chocolate to a beloved as a token of love is
more than just tradition. Naturally-occurring compounds in
chocolate produce that mild euphoria of being in love and
contribute to enjoyable interpersonal relations by elevating
mood and enhancing sensory perception.

Beyond good feelings, chocolate benefits the body in many
ways. In moderation, chocolate can contribute to heart
health, help you live longer, suppress a chronic cough, and
add needed magnesium to your diet. Chocolate even contains a
high level of chromium, which can help control blood sugar.

Chocolate does NOT cause acne, most headaches, or
hyperactivity, and does not raise cholesterol.

HEALTH PROBLEMS

While chocolate itself is fine to eat, there are some
substances present in chocolate products that you should
watch out for.

Most chocolate products contain tremendous amounts of
refined white sugar, which is harmful to health in many
ways.

Chocolate may also contain pesticides. The EPA allows
various levels of pesticide residue to be present in cocoa
powder, and the FDA Total Diet Study found them in many
chocolate products.

Many chocolates also contain the toxic metals cadminum and
lead. “Significant levels” of these metals were found in 68%
of the common chocolate products tested. There is no safe
level for lead, and it is particularly harmful to children.

HEALTHY CHOCOLATE CHOICES

Here are some guidelines for choosing the healthiest
chocolates.

1. Choose chocolates with the least amount of refined white
sugar or other sweetener. Dark “bittersweet” chocolates with
a high percentage of cocoa solids (usually the label will
state the exact percentage) have less sugar than semisweet
or milk chocolate and also have the greatest health
benefits. Keep in mind that flavor additions, such as dried
fruits and candied ginger may also add sugar to the
chocolate.

2. Choose chocolates sweetened with evaporated cane juice or
barley malt. If the evaporated cane juice used is the
unprocessed whole juice of the cane, it acts in the body
like a whole food and doesn’t give a sugar rush. Barley malt
is also a slow-release sweetener, noted on the label as
“grain-sweetened.”

3. Choose organic chocolates. Certified organic chocolate
ensures there are no harmful pesticide residues.

4. Make your own chocolates. It’s easy to make many
chocolate delights yourself, with the exact ingredients you
want. Start with unsweetened cocoa powder or baking
chocolate and be creative!

SAVOR YOUR CHOCOLATE

Fine chocolate is one of those earthly pleasures to be
savored. When eaten as a special treat, with full
appreciation, a little chocolate can go a long way.

Choose quality over quantity. If you are going to eat
chocolate, eat really good chocolate. Then, for maximum
enjoyment, give the taste of the chocolate your full
attention, eat it at a time when you are not famished or
overly full, and allow the chocolate to melt in your mouth
to make the experience last.