Celebrate Chocolate Lover’s Month with Heart Healthy Treats
February is the month we celebrate love for one another and for chocolate, because it’s Chocolate Lover’s Month! With United States chocolate manufacturers using roughly 3.5 million pounds of whole milk each day to produce milk chocolate, it’s no wonder we have dedicated an entire month to the delectable treat. Chocolate is one of the most versatile foods with the ability to be used in everything from candy to drinks, cakes, and even savory sauces. While most of these items aren’t exactly the healthiest nutritional choices, there are some chocolate treats that can actually be considered heart healthy.
Chocolate comes from the beans of the cacao tree, which is actually considered a fruit tree. In order to produce just one pound of chocolate, 400 cocoa beans are needed. There are three common categories of chocolate: milk, dark, and white chocolate. The proportion of cocoa solids from cocoa beans that is mixed with cocoa butter and sugar is what determines the darkness of the chocolate. The cocoa solids are an important part of chocolate as they provide dietary flavonoids which are antioxidants found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, and some drinks. When you consume more dietary flavonoids, you can actually help lower your risk of coronary heart disease.
Dark chocolate is high in the flavonoids that lower your risk of heart disease, and some studies have indicated that consuming chocolate or cocoa may also lower your risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, the research has shown that any health benefits are fairly small, even if you were to eat dark chocolate daily, so if you’re going to eat chocolate, do so in moderation as a treat – not to try and improve your health.
Heart Healthy Chocolate Treats
Eating a nutritious diet doesn’t mean you have to cut out everything you enjoy! Creating heart-healthy chocolate treats means ensuring you’re also including other heart-healthy ingredients. EatingWell offers a wide variety of healthy chocolate recipes you can easily make at home, including:
- Crispy Peanut Butter Balls
- Strawberry-Chocolate Greek Yogurt Bark
- One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
- No-Bake Vegan Date Brownies
- Chocolate Nut Bark
Keep Your Heart Healthy
Eating a nutritious diet, treating yourself to more heart-healthy chocolate snacks, can help keep your heart healthy. However, heart health takes more, including physical activity and regular check-ups with a physician. Let our caring, professional medical staff at Midwest Express Clinic help you take control of your heart health. Visit one of our convenient locations for a wellness exam, and we can discuss more ways you can support your heart health.