Lisa Perry
Health & Wellness

Oct. 28 is National Chocolate Day!

October 28 is National Chocolate Day. Actually, depending on which calendar you follow, July 7 and December 28 are also designated as chocolate days. I’m perfectly happy to celebrate chocolate any day! You could say I have an addiction to dark chocolate. I only eat a small amount at a time, though. Here are some facts about the nutrition of chocolate.

Why is dark chocolate better considered healthier than milk chocolate?
Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa solids. Basically, the more cocoa in the product, the less room there is for sugar and other less healthful ingredients. Higher quality dark chocolates do not contain shelf-life extenders or other unrecognizable ingredients. 

Are there really health benefits in chocolate?
Yes, but there’s a catch – or three. First, of course, is the amount of sugar in the chocolate. Less is better. Second, the less processing the cacao beans undergo, the more nutrients are retained. Third, ingredients like caramel and marshmallow are tasty, but add more sugar and unhealthy ingredients, thus reducing the benefits. 

What are the benefits of chocolate or cocoa?
The antioxidant power of chocolate, stemming in part from the flavonoids, is often touted as beneficial. Flavonoids, which are abundant in cacao beans, may improve blood flow, prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, and fight cell damage. Other sources of flavonoids are apples, cherries, blueberries, nuts, tea, and red wine.

Including dark chocolate in a healthful diet may support overall cardiovascular health and may even lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Chocolate consumption may improve cognitive function, too!

Enjoy some dark chocolate today! Try it in these chocolate-avocado truffles. Don’t knock chocolate and avocado until you try it.

Minty avocado truffles

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate (70% + cocoa solids)
  • 3 T pureed avocado
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Peppermint extract oil (may omit or use other flavored oil)
  • 3 T cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)

Mash avocado until lump-free. Melt chocolate in a double boiler (or in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (about 1 minute). Stir in avocado, peppermint oil, and salt until well combined. The mixture will begin to thicken.

Cover and chill in refrigerator until cool and thickened, about 30 minutes. Using a melon-baller, scoop bite-sized pieces and roll in your hands to form balls. If balls don’t form, refrigerate 15-30 minutes longer.

Place cocoa powder in small bowl. Roll each ball in cocoa powder to coat. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Best eaten within 2-3 days, as avocado oils may turn rancid. Makes 12-16 truffles, depending on size you choose. Experiment with flavors: roll in coconut or chopped nuts; add a dash of cinnamon or cayenne pepper to cocoa powder.

Lisa Perry
Registered dietitian nutritionist who believes proper nutrition has the power to transform health. Loves dark chocolate.