With this being Valentine’s weekend, I am sure there will be a lot of chocolate consumed. However, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you eat the right chocolate. There have been a lot of studies done showing that dark chocolate, made with at least 60% cocoa, can have great health benefits.
Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids which are antioxidant compounds that promote healthy veins and arteries. These antioxidants may also help increase blood blow to the heart, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots. Dark chocolate may also help reduce stress. When we are stressed, our bodies releases the stress hormone, cortisol. A study in Switzerland found that eating dark chocolate helped reduce the cortisol levels in anxious people. Another benefit is that dark chocolate can help improve blood flow to the brain. This improved blood flow may also help improve vision.
So this all being said, you still need to be sure not to overdo it because there is still some fat in chocolate. It took me a while to develop the taste for dark chocolate. I was always a milk chocolate lover, but I started with 60% dark chocolate and have worked my way up to 86% dark chocolate. 86% is pretty dry and tart and not my favorite. I prefer 72% which still a little sweet. I have a hard time eating milk chocolate any more.
So before you run out to buy your chocolate, be sure the chocolate contains at least 60% cocoa, that it is made from cocoa butter instead of oils such as palm and coconut oil and be sure it does not contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. That would probably eliminate the dark chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Milky Ways!
Attached is a recipe from The Cleveland Clinic to make your own truffles. I tried to make truffles once before and it was a disaster. I swore I would never try again. However, this recipe looked easy so I gave it a try. It was very easy and they are really good. I ended up blending 72% and 86% dark chocolate. The orange peel gave them a great, but mild, orange flavor. The only change I made to the recipe was I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of soy milk. I may, at another time, play around with this recipe and add my own flavors. Dark chocolate and raspberry would be wonderful. They were a winner with my daughter (who is 15) and I am hoping Chris, my husband, likes them because that is what he is getting for Valentine’s Day!