Guest Blogger - Ruth Clark, RD, LD, MPH
February is National Heart Month and Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so it’s a great time to talk about the health benefits of chocolate. Chocolate is a powerful antioxidant and is loaded with nutrients particularly minerals which are hard to get in adequate amounts in the traditional American diet.
If you eat quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, you will be getting plenty of flavonols. Flavonols are phytonutrients that have profound positive effects on your health. The darker the chocolate the better. My recommendation is 85% or higher. The good news is, its rich so you don’t need much.
Five Health Benefits of Chocolate:
If this is a challenge for you, unprocessed cocoa is a great way to go. It contains minimal fat and zero sugar. Processing cocoa, also known as Dutch process, reduces the flavonol content. So, stick with natural cocoa.
It tastes delicious if you add it to a protein smoothie made with protein powder sweetened with stevia and some fruit. Or you can make a hot chocolate with some warm milk and stevia. If dairy is a problem for you just use almond or coconut milk as an alternative to cow’s milk. So, kick back, relax and make yourself a nice cup of cocoa guilt free and enjoy the snowy weather in February here in the Monadnocks.
Other ways to increase your cocoa intake include adding it to your morning oatmeal with some cinnamon, adding it to your morning coffee to create a mocha flavor, try it in chili or swirl it into a plain Greek yogurt for an interesting turn on a healthy snack. You can create a rub for pork tenderloin with cocoa, onion and garlic powder, cinnamon, allspice and ginger or use it in a Mexican mole sauce. (recipes for chili and pork tenderloin can be found on my website smartnutritionllc.com/
Ruth Clark is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a master’s in Public Health and over 35 years of experience. She lives in Sharon with an office in Peterborough and sees clients in Keene (Jeni’s Skin Care). Ruth specializes in mid-life women who are struggling with weight, mood and fatigue to regain their energy and vitality. You can reach her at RuthRD@SmartNutritionLLC.com.