Valentine’s day is approaching.  It appears to me that there are more red hearts and cellophane delights than Halloween.  I guess it gives people an excuse to eat chocolate and maybe even say I love you?

The nutrition question that I get asked most in February, is chocolate good for you?  Many people wonder this.  Surf the web and numerous articles will pop up pertaining to this issue.  To put it simply chocolate that is made from 70% or more cocoa, has health benefits associated with it.  These health benefits are derived from the antioxidants found in the the cocoa solids called flavonoids.

Antioxidants are important because they fight the free radicals produced in our bodies. Free radicals can cause a plethora of health problems.  A diet rich in fruits and vegetables contain a very high source of antioxidants.  So don’t really on chocolate to do the job!

Chocolate with less than 70% cocoa usually has fewer of these antioxidants and more milk solids and fats which are not associated with health benefits.  The classic milk chocolate bar is a treat and cannot be considered a source of antioxidants (that includes the Aero Bar).  In contrast, 10 grams of dark chocolate a day contributes approximately 50 calories and packs quite a flavorful punch.

Here are some yummy chocolatey  ideas.  Jazz up plain yogurt with dark chocolate shavings. Now that is decadent.  Try sucking on a piece of dark chocolate while sipping tea.  It might become a regular ritual. Have you ever tried a nut-butter sandwich with dark chocolate shavings? Mmmmmm  A skinny latte sprinkled with dark chocolate is better than sugar!  Whip up an exotic vegetable salad and use coconut and chocolate flecks for extra flavour.  Instead of the dreaded Nutella over toast in the morning sprinkle some chocolate.

Remember, everything in moderation is the way to go.  When you have too much of something that is good for you then it often has the reverse effect. Too much dark chocolate equals too many calories.