Sweet (and Healthy) Treat for Your Valentine

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - Roses and chocolate and if you're lucky, jewelry, are the most popular gifts for Valentine's Day, but did you know one of the three could help save your life?

Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard takes a look at which gift keeps on giving beyond February 14th.

Roses and jewelry might be good for your soul, but medical research proves chocolate is good for your heart.

But before you dive into a box of chocolates, you should know only one kind of chocolate contains those heart-healthy compounds.

People lined up at the chocolate factory today, to buy their sweetheart a sweet treat for Valentine's Day.

But all chocolate is not created equal.

In fact, the more bitter the chocolate the better for your heart.

"It's not chocolate just all lumped into one category. It's definitely the dark chocolate that has the health benefits. Milk chocolate and white chocolate really just have more sugar," UT Medical Center Dietician Janet Seiber says flavanoids affect the taste, color and bitterness of plants.

And evidence suggests the darker the skin of a fruit, the more antioxidants it contains.

With chocolate, the same holds true. The more bitter the cocoa, the more anti-oxidant compounds, like flavanoids, it contains.

And medical research shows these flavanoids possess anti-inflammatory properties.

"Dark chocolate is not as processed and contains more of those anti-oxidants and research has shown that it can help prevent cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls. So that can reduce your risk for heart disease," says Seiber.

But just like all chocolate is not created equal, neither is all dark chocolate.

Select dark chocolate made with cocoa solids and no trans fats.

"You want to look for the 70% or higher cocoa solids in your dark chocolate, and it doesn't have as much sugar, but it does have about the same amount of fat and the same amount of calories," Seiber says.

And remember, along with flavanoids, one once of a dark chocolate bar also contains 140 calories and five grams of saturated fat.

Looking for the perfect, healthy gift for your significant other.

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries
from the Healthy Living Kitchen at the University of Tennessee Medical Center

Ingredients:

6oz Dark Chocolate
3T Fat-free Half and Half
20 Large Strawberries

Directions:

1. In a one-quart glass bowl combine chocolate and cream.
2. Heat in microwave oven on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until smooth.
3. Dip each strawberry into the chocolate mixture allowing the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. If necessary, add additional cream to the chocolate to achieve desired coating consistency.
4. Transfer the coated strawberry to a baking sheet lined with foil or waxed paper and repeat the process.
5. Allow the chocolate to cool and then chill the strawberries until chocolate is set, about 20-30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts per Strawberry:

Calories – 45
Fat – 2 grams
Saturated Fat - 1 gram
Vitamin C – 15 milligrams.


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