FullSizeRenderValentine’s day is upon us and with all of the festivities and celebrations centred around candy and chocolate, it is easy to get carried away or overindulge. According to 2012 Confectionary News, Canadians eat about 14 lbs of chocolate per year! 14 lbs is way too much, but enjoying chocolate in moderation can actually be good for your health because it is a plant based food.  It comes from the cocoa plant and is high in disease-fighting antioxidants called flavonoids (similar to those found in green tea). However, the amount of flavonoids in chocolate actually depends on the the type you choose.  When selecting chocolate, choose dark chocolate as your best disease-fighting bet! This Valentine’s day, be mindful of your chocolate consumption by taking into consideration some of these helpful chocolate facts.

Heart Health Benefits:

Research shows the flavonoids in dark chocolate actually keep our heart healthy. Eating a small amount, about 1 oz. of dark chocolate 2 to 3 times per week can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and the type of saturated fat found naturally in dark chocolate, steric acid does not raise blood cholesterol.

Anti-Cancer Benefits:

Antioxidants help free the body of free radicals. Free radicals are thought to be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich dark chocolate can help protect you from many types of cancer.

High in Nutrients:

Dark chocolate contains potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron, and fibre. Look for 60-70% cocoa solids – the higher the percentage the higher the nutrient and flavonoid antioxidant content.

Milk Chocolate:

This is a diluted form of dark chocolate because it has added milk, sugar and cocoa butter. While there is still about 25% cocoa solids, it pales in comparison to dark.

White Chocolate:

White chocolate is not made from cocoa beans at all. Rather it is simply cocoa butter and sugar so there are no flavonoids.

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Whichever chocolate you prefer, keep in mind that the calories, sugar and fat do add up quickly so enjoy it in moderation. Better yet, instead of just eating chocolate this Valentine’s Day, why not treat yourself to a fruity, chocolate treat? Melt chocolate and dip your favourite fresh fruit into it. This is a fun way to enjoy a little chocolate with a lot of fruit guilt-free.