Dark Chocolate and Heart Health


Dark chocolate and heart health are in the media, with conflicting opinions. February is National Heart Health Month and Celebrate Chocolate Month. During this media segment, registered dietitian, Allysa Ballantini, shares a few fun facts about how dark chocolate may benefit your ticker and what to look for while purchasing this decadent sweet.


Pro tip: Look for dark chocolate with the highest percentage of cacao (70% or higher), for the most antioxidant and flavonoid content.



IS DARK CHOCOLATE REALLY HEALTHY?


• Cacao—A standard bar of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cacao contains about 600 calories and 24 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutrient database. Milk chocolate contains roughly the same number of calories but twice the sugar.

• Antioxidants— Believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed from natural body processes, such as breathing. Flavonoids are the prominent antioxidant in dark chocolate.

• Rich in iron, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

• Moderation is key—Enjoying dark chocolate is possible in a healthy diet. When eaten in moderation, it can induce satiety, the feeling of fullness, like nuts. One serving of dark chocolate is 1 oz.


Bottom Line: Enjoying 1 oz. of dark chocolate, containing more than 70% cacao, may be linked to reduced blood pressure and inflammation. Enjoy National Heart Health Month and Celebrate Chocolate Month with dark chocolate to increase satiation and pleasure.



Dark Chocolate Nut Bark


Serves 25


INGREDIENTS:

3 tbsp. walnuts, chopped

3 tbsp. whole salted almonds, chopped

1 tbsp. raw pepitas

12 oz. dark chocolate baking squares

1 tbsp. dried apricots, chopped


DIRECTIONS:

1. Toast chopped walnuts, chopped whole salted almonds, and raw pepitas in a 350- degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Chop semisweet chocolate baking squares; melt according to package directions. Spread on parchment to 1/4-inch thickness.

3. Sprinkle nut mixture and finely chopped dried apricots on top. Chill 15 minutes or until set. Break into pieces.


Nutrition facts per serving: 80 Calories, 5 g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans-fat, 0mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 9g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 8g total sugar, 7g added sugar, 1g protein.


Recipe adapted from Hy-Vee.com

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