Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate your love with a food many love – chocolate. After all, chocolate tops most people’s favorite foods list, and it turns out there are some good health reasons in addition to the good taste reasons. Chocolate – especially dark chocolate – is good for you.
Research shows that chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, improve memory and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[i] And, contrary to popular belief, research shows chocolate doesn’t ruin your complexion.
In the post below, don’t miss a unique chocolate truffle recipe!
Not All Chocolates are Created Equal
While all chocolates contain antioxidants called flavonoids, dark chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, provide more health benefits than milk chocolate or white chocolate.
The stronger and darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains and the more health benefits it provides.
For maximum health benefits when buying chocolate, look for:
- Dark chocolate blocks with at least 70% cocoa solids.
- Raw cacao or cocoa powder.
One gram of cocoa contains over 30 mg of flavanols, whereas one gram of dark chocolate contains approximately 12.5 mg.To learn more about cocoa, read our blog post Cancer-Fighting Cocoa.
- Cacao nibs, which are crushed, raw cacao beans. You can use these in place of chocolate chips in items like cookies, trail mixes or smoothies.
Cocoa & Skin Cancer Research
Helmut Sies, M.D., a biochemist at Heinrich-Heine-Universitat in Dusseldorf, Germany, is a leading cancer prevention expert and received funding from NFCR for his nutrition-focused cancer research. Dr. Sies’ key research breakthrough on micronutrients involves his discovery that lycopene – a carotenoid and antioxidant found in tomatoes – can help curb the initiation of cancer. His research has also shown that flavonoids (found in cocoa products) can prevent skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. High flavanol cocoa – which has similar amounts of flavanols as 100gm dark chocolate – improves skin health and hydration and may reduce risk of UV-induced skin damage.
Let’s be clear: This research doesn’t mean you should start rubbing cocoa products on your skin – but it does mean there could be skin-cancer fighting properties in some sweets!
The Chocolate Truffles recipe below provides a healthy twist on a classic Valentine’s Day favorite. They’re easy to make and your sweetheart will LOVE them!
Adapted from Diana Keuilian
For the Inside:
- 2 cups pecans, toasted
- 1 cup dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon raw honey, melted
For the Toppings:
- Melted dark chocolate
- Unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Minced dark chocolate pieces
- Place the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden. Set aside to cool.
- Place the dates in a small bowl with hot water and cover for 10 minutes. Discard the soaking water and place the dates and cooled pecans in the food processor, along with the cocoa powder, sea salt and honey. Pulse until coarse and crumbly.
- Cover a tray that fits in your freezer with parchment paper. Form the dough into 30 balls and roll in the toppings of your choice.
- Place the truffles on the prepared pan and freeze for 15 minutes.
Fun Chocolate Facts
*Eating just ONE chocolate chip gives the average adult the needed energy to walk 150 feet.
*A dark chocolate bar has approximately 10-15g of sugar. A glass of orange juice has about 22g of sugar.
*Chocolate is harmful to dogs and can cause seizures and even death.
*Chocolate syrup was used to depict blood in the iconic shower scene of Hitchcock’s film “Psycho.”