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Festival Foods

The Truth About Chocolate

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With Valentine’s Day this Sunday, you may want to buy the one you love some chocolate or make a special dessert, but may feel guilty eating the treat. So, I thought this was a great opportunity to decipher some of the truths about chocolate.

Chocolate, a product of the tropical cacao tree, is a cholesterol free food in its natural form. Cocoa beans are naturally rich in plant nutrients, including flavanols. Eating small portions of chocolate or cocoa regularly can provide a variety of health benefits, such as decreasing blood pressure, promoting blood flow to the brain, hydrating the skin, and reducing the likelihood of a blood clot.

Health Benefits White Milk Dark Cocoa
Natural Source of Antioxidants X X X
Improved Blood Flow X X
Provides Essential Nutrients X X x X

As you can see, dark chocolate and cocoa are better choices as they provide more nutritional bang for your calorie buck. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a standard 40g (1.5oz) serving of dark chocolate provides 10% of the daily value for magnesium and iron, about 200 calories, and is considered a good source of dietary fiber and iron.

Here are a few tips on how to enjoy a sweet treat without over-doing it:

  • Be creative: Combine chocolate and cocoa with other foods for additional nutrients and flavors.
  • Buy only enough chocolates or a dessert for one day so the temptation will not lurk past the holiday.
  • One dessert + two spoons = sweet treat to share and smart in regards to calorie control!
  • Pre-portion your servings in a small dish. This will make them appear larger.
  • Balance your chocolate treats with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight. Take a walk with your loved one to celebrate the day!

Or Go Calorie Free!

Still not sure you can keep the portion under control? I recommend that you check out our floral displays and balloons in our produce department. We have teddy bears and cards too. I am actually on my way there soon to get my nieces some fun Valentine’s Day balloons. Luckily they can’t read yet, so this post won’t give away my surprise!

Happy Heart Day!

-Stephanie Walker

Information derived from Hershey’s Center for Health & Nutrition ™

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