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
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,
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
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.