When a chocolate craving hits, you sometimes can’t help but indulge. The good news is, you may no longer need to feel as guilty – if you choose dark chocolate.
Chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is loaded with nutritious fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa it contains and the more nutritious it may be because of a component of cocoa called flavonoids.
Flavonoids contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, which may have positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity. It may also reduce risk factors for heart disease, help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.
While all of these benefits are great, don’t overdo it. Many commercial chocolate bars have added fat, sugar and calories. So eating too much, could reverse the benefits and contribute to weight gain, which is a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Experts recommend looking for less-processed chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cacao and limiting yourself to a maximum of 1 to 2 ounces a day.
While eating one or two squares of dark chocolate is delicious on its own, here is a tasty recipe to try:
Peanut Butter Walnut Energy Bites
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1½ cups steel cut or rolled oats
- ½ cup ground flax seed
- ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- In a large bowl, combine peanut butter and honey. Fold in oats, flax seed, chocolate chips and walnuts.
- Roll mixture into 2-inch bites.
- *Optional: roll balls in unsweetened coconut.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week or the freezer up to one month.
*Recipe provided by UnitedHealthcare Stride.