When it comes to Valentine’s Day, there are three gifts that come quickest to mind: flowers, jewelry, and chocolate. Truffles, dipped strawberries, beautifully boxed caramels – there is seemingly no end these days to the options you can find.
When it comes to your health, did you know that chocolate can play a negative or positive role? That all depends on the choices you make. Let’s break this down.
Chocolate has a myriad of health benefits:
- The antioxidants in dark chocolate have been show to lower blood pressure, increase blood circulation and lessen clotting risks.
- The flavanols in chocolate can improve blood flow to the skin and help protect it from the sun (but SPF is still a must!)
- The improved blood flow chocolate promotes can also improve brain function, as does its caffeine content. Though it is a simulant, it can actually help with focus and concentration.
- Dark chocolate has positive effects on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity to it can he helpful in the prevention of diabetes. If you are diabetic, you should still keep the dosage small – perhaps an ounce a day.
Did I mention that moderate amounts of dark chocolate can aide in weigh loss? The monounsaturated fatty acids help improve metabolism and burn calories. A little chocolate event 20 minutes before a meal helps to curb an appetite. Two squares of dark chocolate midday is the only snack I ever need to keep me going until dinner.
Dairy-free chocolate is best. The darker the chocolate, the lower the sugars which is also good as sugar fuels inflammation. 70% or higher is best, but start with a lower number and see if you can slowly train your palate to adapt to the higher percentage.
According to research released by Consumer Reports in spring of 2023 some dark chocolate contains potentially dangerous amounts of heavy metals. The amount of heavy metals in 28 popular brands of dark chocolate bars were studied and cadmium and lead were present in all, some with harmful levels of at least once metal.
“Long-term exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals can lead to a slew of health issues, including developmental problems and brain development in young children,” experts say. Consumer Reports found that an ounce of Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate contained lead 265% above what California allows, and Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate 72% Cacos had 192% more.
So which are the best choices this February, for spouses and children alike?
- Mast Organic Dark Chocolate
- Taza Chocolate Organic Delicously Dark Chocolate
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight
- Valrhona Abinao Dark Chocolate
And what is the difference between fair and direct trade?
Fair Trade means that the growers and farmers picking and manufacturing the chocolate have safe working conditions and fair pay. Direct Trade means that manufacturers are buying the chocolate directly from the farmers which benefits those doing the hard labor.
Now for the fun part. How about a simple chocolate homemade treat to show some love to your spouse, kids or nanny? This nut-free, vegan version is super simple.
- Simmer 2/3 cup of oat milk (preferably Malk or Elmhurst Milked Oats – no gums of fillers, just oats, water and salt.)
- Mix the warm oat milk into 2 ounces of any good quality dark chocolate and stir until the chocolate is smooth and melted. You can microwave it in 15 second increments to help it along, stirring between heatings to get the right consistency. Once smooth, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours or overnight.
- Once the chocolate is cold and firm, combine 1 TBSP ground cinnamon and 1 TBSP confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. You could substitute the sugar for cocoa powder, or choose crushed pretzels, shredded coconut, sprinkles, or even crushed candy canes as a fun and tasty topping.
- Make sure your hands are cold. Then, using a tablespoon, scoop a bit of chocolate and shape it into a ball. Roll it in the topping of your choices. Place on wax or parchment paper and cool again before serving, boxing, or piling into a mason jar for gifting. They can be stored in an air-tight container for about one week.
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About The Author
Embark on a journey to vibrant health, wellness, and a nourished lifestyle by inviting a Nutritional Coach into your life. Picture a dedicated ally who guides you toward personalized nutrition, empowering you to achieve your health goals.
Yonni Limmer Wattenmaker, a graduate of Institute for Integrative Nutrition and specialized training from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, developed yonni. health + wellness and the Yon Appetit platform as a premiere resource for health-conscious individuals seeking original recipes, wellness insights, and personalized coaching tailored to unique health needs. The result is a distinguished and celebrated Nutritional Health Coaching service.
Household Staffing invites individuals seeking better health to engage Yon Appetit’s unparalleled wellness expertise today. Book an initial consultation for you, your child, or your staff, at email@example.com.