Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day! Now, Go for the Chocolate

In the midst of searching for the perfect bouquet of flowers, the perfect teddy bear or even the perfect diamond for your significant other, don't forget the chocolate! If you're looking for the perfect sweet for your sweetheart, The Livitician Network recommends dark chocolate. Dark chocolate not only tastes great, it can improve your health. According to research conducted by the University of California, eating a small 1.6 ounce bar of dark chocolate every day is good for you. Dark chocolate is said to help increase your immunity and improve cardiovascular health. When looking for the perfect dark chocolate be sure it's at least 65% cocoa and that it has no artificial vanillin. Whole Foods or Trader Joes have a great selection of dark chocolates. You can also offer that special someone cocoa. The best way to get the catechins (substance in cocoa that provides antioxidants and increases your HDL (good cholesterol level) is to have unsweetened cocoa that is non-alkaline so you don't get that excess fat that is in cocoa butter (in chocolate bars). The alkalinization processing removes the good catechins thus diminishing the benefits of cocoa. A great brand of unsweetened cocoa is available at Whole Foods (Ah!Laska Unsweetened Baker's Cocoa Non-dairy, organic). Cocoa is high in flavonols that improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Here's a great way to make the perfect cup of cocoa and is considered a free food dietarily, thus does not contribute to your caloric intake:

Unsweetened cocoa (non-alkaline) with hot water and 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. agave nectar (if you want it to be a snack, make it with boiled soy milk).

Happy Valentine's Day and "Livit" up by going for the chocolate!

Your Livitician, Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD

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