Deep dark secret: Selecting right Valentine's Day chocolate can benefit heart

If you can’t resist eating chocolate or giving it as a gift on Valentine’s Day, you should know that choosing the right type of chocolate can benefit your heart, says Lona Sandon, a registered dietician at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Pure chocolate, made from cocoa beans, is rich in flavanol, an antioxidant that may help protect arteries from damage, maintain healthy blood flow and fend off heart disease.

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain the highest levels of flavanol.

But these health benefits are reduced considerably when pure chocolate is processed and other ingredients – such as sugar, milk and butter – are added. Candy bars and boxed chocolates may be tasty but their added fat and calories make them not-so-healthy treats, Ms. Sandon says.

So it’s best to skip the chocolate candy and replace it with a cup of hot cocoa.

“Research suggests that drinking a cup of dark hot chocolate can be equated with drinking a glass of wine in protecting the heart,” says Ms. Sandon, who urges people to eat and drink in moderation. “Chocolate by itself may provide some health benefits. It’s what’s added to it that’s not so good for us.”

Media Contact:">Kristen Holland Shear

February is American Heart Month. National Donor Day is Feb. 14.

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