Yes, you read that right!
What words come to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day? Flowers? Romance? A fancy dinner? Or perhaps your first thought is of that sweet, silky smooth confection, chocolate.
During the month of February, it’s sitting on store shelves everywhere. For chocolate lovers who are still trying to keep their New Year’s Resolutions, this proves an obstacle. Some avoid the holiday altogether to try and keep their goals. Unfortunately, this means they’re missing out on some surprising health benefits that chocolate can provide. The trick is knowing what kind to buy.
The advantages of chocolate are hidden in the base ingredient: cocoa. Cocoa beans contain antioxidants that can benefit your mouth and teeth when consumed in small quantities. These antioxidants are also linked to a healthier heart. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa it contains, although the best results come from bars containing around 70% cocoa.
Most bars advertise the percentage of cocoa they contain on the label, making this easy information to find when you’re at the store. And since the cocoa makes the chocolate so rich, you’re tempted to eat less per sitting.
If you aren’t one for pure dark chocolate, another way to get your antioxidants is by mixing cocoa powder with warm almond or coconut milk for homemade hot chocolate, or adding it to plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or your favorite berry smoothie. You can also use carob, a tropical pod similar in nutrients to cocoa. Carob doesn’t contain caffeine like cocoa does, and naturally tastes less bitter. This makes it a great option for those who are sensitive to caffeine, or dislike the bitterness cocoa leaves behind.
If you feel a chocolate craving coming on this Valentine’s Day, don’t worry that you’ll be ruining your diet. Just opt for something a little darker, a little healthier, and a little better. Not only will it take care of your sweet tooth, but your body, and your mouth, will thank you.