Tag Archives: chocolate

  • Chocolate: The key to your heart?

    Looks like giving chocolate to your loved one for Valentine’s Day isn’t just a sweet thing to do—it could also help their heart. An August 2011 review published in the British Medical Journal found that people who consumed the highest levels of chocolate (generally more than once a week) had a substantially reduced cardiovascular risk than those who ate chocolate rarely. The systematic review covered seven studies that recorded varying levels of chocolate consumption and the associated health effects.

    “Recent studies (both experimental and observational) have suggested that chocolate consumption has a positive influence on human health…,” the report states. “These beneficial effects have been confirmed in recent reviews and meta-analyses, supporting the positive role of cacao and cocoa products on cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance.”

    “Five of the seven studies reported a beneficial association between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. The highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease…and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels.”

    Experts agree that the best way to benefit from chocolate’s polyphenols is to lean toward darker chocolate, minus the added dairy and sugar. Ones to try: Pharmaca's two Dark Chocolate Bars, made from organic, Fair Trade chocolate in 78% and 70% cocoa contents.

    Stop in and check out the rest of Pharmaca’s heart-smart chocolate selection today!    

  • The (healthy) glory of chocolate

    We just stumbled on this little nugget by John Robbins over at the Huffington Post—we've never seen someone lay out the true health benefits of chocolate quite so well. It turns out it's not just full of antioxidants, it's also great for your heart, your mood, etc. As Robbins says, "There is in fact a growing body of credible scientific evidence that chocolate contains a host of heart-healthy and mood-enhancing phytochemicals, with benefits to both body and mind."

    He goes on to talk about how it's packed with polyphenols that inhibit atherosclerosis, how it helps lower blood pressure, elevate moods by releasing pleasurable endorphins and boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Sounds like a superfood to us! (And it's good to know that the bad rap that chocolate has gotten over the years is mostly due to the additives we put in it--butterfat and sugar, namely--that can boost fat and high cholesterol.)

    Robbins concludes by talking about how much chocolate we really need to reap all those benefits: "According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adding only half an ounce of dark chocolate to an average American diet is enough to increase total antioxidant capacity 4 percent, and lessen oxidation of LDL cholesterol."

    The perfect afternoon snack. Grab one of Pharmaca's fair-trade or organic dark chocolates and munch happy (and healthy)!

  • Start planning your healthy Valentine's Day dinner

    You—and your heart—will these healthy twists on romantic dishes. Click here for a complete menu for Valentine's Day, including Forest Mushroom Pate and Honey Balsamic Salmon with Creamy Spinach Saute. In the meantime, here's one for our favorite part—dessert!

    Silky Chocolate Fondue

    Nothing says, "I love you" like double chocolate fondue, especially when it's made with dark chocolate, known to contain beneficial antioxidants. Dip and swirl your way to your loved one's heart with fresh berries, bananas and sweet fat-free angel food cake. If you don't have a fondue pot, serve in a mini-crock pot or in a bowl over a saucepan of warm water.

    Makes about 2 cups

    1 cup 2% chocolate milk
    12 oz. dark chocolate (60 - 65% cacao), chopped
    3 Tbs. light agave nectar
    1 tsp. vanilla extract

    1. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk until chocolate is smooth and silky. Whisk in agave and vanilla.

    2. Pour into fondue pot or mini-crock pot and enjoy immediately.

    Fondue Flavor Variations

    • Add 2 to 3 Tbs. of your favorite liqueur, like Frangelico, Bailey's Irish Cream, Creme de Menthe, Grand Marnier, Amaretto or Chambord.
    • Add 1 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of ground cayenne or ancho chile pepper for Mexican-style fondue.
    • Mix 1 tsp. espresso powder with 2 Tbs. water and stir it into the fondue.

    Low-Fat Dippables

    • Strawberries, Raspberries and Bananas
    • Dried Apricots
    • Crystallized Ginger
    • Pretzels
    • Graham Crackers
    • Marshmallows
    • Meringue Cookies
    • Biscotti
    • Angel Food Cake

    PER SERVING (1/4 cup fondue): 195CAL; 3G PROT; 9G TOTAL FAT (4G SAT. FAT); 26G CARB; 3MG CHOL; 27MG SOD; 3G FIBER; 70G SUGARS

    Recipes by Melynda's Kitchen

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