healthy chocolates

5 Chocolate Treats That are Surprisingly Healthy

5 Chocolate Treats That are Surprisingly Healthy

Chocolate lovers rejoice! A research evidence shows that consuming chocolate may help in lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, and even reducing insulin resistance 2.

But, although cacao has been known to have health benefits, many chocolate treats are filled with added sugar, butter, and other ingredients which make them less than healthy.

The good news is that there is a list of chocolate treats which are actually good for you. Which means you can enjoy these healthy and cocoa-rich foods without feeling any guilt.

5 Chocolate Snacks that are Actually Good for You:

1. Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

Did you know that chocolate covered espresso beans are very healthy. The flavenols present in espresso beans contain strong antioxidant activity, protecting you from environmental contaminants and oxidative stress that cause cellular damage 2.

Also, caffeine consumption has been associated with lower levels of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease 4.

But, limit yourself to a 1-ounce serving of chocolate covered espresso beans to avoid the negative effects of caffeine. These include rapid heart rate, jitteriness, and increased blood pressure 4.

2. Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

Dark chocolates are filled with beneficial antioxidants, including the flavonoids called catechins, procyanidins, and epicatechins 1. These flavonoids are able to counteract oxidative damage, that accumulates in cells and is linked with disease and inflammation.

People with high flavonoid levels have been reported to have lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer 1.

Almonds are considered to be superfood. Consuming a diet rich in almonds can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes 3.

But, bear in mind the portion sizes when consuming dark chocolate covered almonds, as 1 serving is equivalent to a small handful of these snacks. Your total caloric intake can increase when you overindulge because almonds are an energy dense food.

3. DIY Fondue

When making the homemade Fondue, melt 1 ounce of dark chocolate, then dip your choice of fruit in it. You can use blueberries, apple slices and strawberries for double the heart-healthy flavanols. You can refrigerate it or enjoy it warm, according to Joan Salge Blake, R.D., a clinical associate professor at Boston University and author of Nutrition & You.

4. Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are typically filled with butter and added sugars which make them an unhealthy choice. For a healthy chocolate chip cookies, swap banana for the eggs, then put heart-healthy rolled oats, and add almond or soy milk for moisture 5.

Choosing high-quality dark chocolate can bring that big difference in the end product. Also, you may chop some high-quality chocolate bar into pieces for that chocolate chunk effect.

5. Rich Hot Cocoa

The cocoa beverages that you purchase from coffeeshops are often filled with mounds of whipped cream, extra pumps of flavored syrup, and drizzles of chocolate syrup. But this does not mean that hot cocoa has to be unhealthy.

How to:
1. You can make an antioxidant-rich cacao drink at home by combining 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder into a mug of hot milk. This can be nut, soy, dairy or rice milk. Then add a bit of agave syrup and vanilla extract for flavor and sweetness.

2. If you are truly craving whipped cream, you can make a healthy vegan whipped cream from raw cashews. Just soak 1 cup of raw cashews into ½ cup of water for at least 3 hours. Thenblend the mixture using a food processor, adding 1 teaspoon of honey for natural sweetness.

References;
Lee, M. (2013). Cookie recipes that are guilt free. Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20727879,00.html

Lee, M. (2013)Hooper et al. (2012). Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(3), 740-751. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/95/3/740.short

Rao, L. (2011). Dark chocolate packs a big antioxidant wallop. Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/dark-chocolate-and-antioxidants-0

Sagon, C. (2013). Caffeine for your health — too good to be true? American Association of Retired Persons. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-10-2013/coffee-for-health.html

Truex, L. (n.d.). What are the health benefits of chocolate covered espresso beans? The Nest. Retrieved from http://woman.thenest.com/health-benefits-chocolatecovered-espresso-beans-9046.html

WHFoods (2014a). Almonds. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20

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Lisa is a researcher in beauty and health products from Australia. She spends most of her time studying health sciences and when she is not working she writes about her findings and experience on various blogs.

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