Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice

I found the following tips about chocolate at Heart-Healthy Living. I'm sure you've heard that a bit of chocolate is good for you, but maybe you'll pick up a few more tips from the following article and check out the recipes. Didn't we all know that something that makes you feel so good had to be good for you?
Dark chocolate not only tastes good, it's good for you, too. It promotes heart health by lowering blood pressure and boosting your mood.

By Lynne Meredith Schreiber
Photos by Scott Little
Food styling by Greg Luna

“Dark chocolate saves lives,” says Arthur Agatston, M.D., a preventive cardiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and an admitted chocoholic. He bases his claim on a 2006 Scandinavian study, which showed that consuming small amounts of chocolate with 70 percent or more cocoa content—and without fattening mix-ins such as caramel, butter, or too many nuts—significantly diminished the likelihood of heart attacks.

Derived from the cacao plant, dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which help keep blood vessels clear and flowing, says Julia Zumpano, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic.

Dark Chocolate Increases HDL
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder increased good (HDL) cholesterol levels by 10 percent, according to a Finland study.

When buying chocolate, avoid:

* milk chocolate
* heavily processed bars
* chocolate with marshmallows
* chocolate with caramel
* chocolate with cream

Heart-healthy nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are OK. “The more plain the chocolate, the better,” says Julia Zumpano, R.D., of the Cleveland Clinic.

Salad With Oranges And Chocolate
Scientists believe nuts may play a role in protecting against heart disease. Here almonds or walnuts team with salad greens, oranges, and a hint of chocolate for a spectacular side dish.
View the Recipe

Feel Better With Chocolate

Chocolate’s naturally occurring serotonin and dopamine are potent antidepressants, Zumpano says. That makes this indulgence a good alternative to cigarettes and addictive drugs; its quick, blissful high won’t hurt your body.

Chocolate also prompts pleasure because it contains phenylethylamine, a natural pain reliever.

Saucy Chicken with Garbanzo Beans
A little chocolate stirred into the chicken and bean mixture just before serving provides a rich but subtle flavor without adding lots of calories and fat.
View the recipe

Heart-Healthy Living's Favorite Chocolates
We taste-tested about 20 brands of chocolate that contain at least 70 percent cacao for the best heart-health benefits. When the buzz wore off, six favorites rose to the top. Look for quality chocolate in specialty food stores or shop online at

Here are our picks:

Valor Dark Chocolate 70%

El Ray, Apamate, Dark Chocolate, 73.5%

Scharffen Berger, Bittersweet, 70%

Bernard Castelain, Macaibo, 70%

Unique Origin, Guyave, 71%

E. Guittard, Quetzalcoatl, 72%

For more heart-health tips, visit:

Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Low-Sodium Recipes

30-Minute Recipes

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