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Benefits of Dark Chocolate + 2 Sweet Valentine’s Treats

Whether you love it or dread it, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. One thing you can feel good about tomorrow… indulging in a piece of dark chocolate.

Chocolate has garnered a lot of press lately. While it’s not a miracle food (sorry, there isn’t one), chocolate–particularly dark chocolate–does provide a myriad of health benefits.

Chocolate contains cocoa beans, which are rich in antioxidants or flavonoids. The primary flavonoid in dark chocolate is flavanols, which may help to boost heart health by reducing blood pressure, improving blood flow and reducing the stickiness of platelets. Yes, dark chocolate in moderation is good for your heart. Just remember… not all chocolates are created equal (white chocolate doesn’t provide these health benefits) and it’s easy to eat a lot of chocolate (those calories can add up quickly if you’re not mindful). So, do yourself–and your heart–a favor and enjoy an ounce of intense dark chocolate a few times a week.

While there is no shortage of chocolate in the stores right now (or ever, really), boost your heart health by making one of my favorite 2-ingredient dark chocolate treats… Dark Chocolate-Walnut Hearts and Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. Your Valentine will thank you.

For Dark Chocolate-Walnut Hearts: Melt 1/2 cup dark melting chocolate bar or chips over a double-boiler or in the microwave. (I like bittersweet dark or Lily’s stevia-sweetened dark baking chips.) Add in 2-3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts and mix well. (For a nut-free variety: Substitute chopped dried fruit and/or pumpkin seeds for the nuts.) Pour into heart-shaped candy or ice cube molds. Put in refrigerator until firm.

For Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries: Melt ½ cup dark melting chocolate bar or chips over double boiler or in the microwave. (See notes above.) While chocolate in melting, wash and dry strawberries really well. (The trick to getting a good chocolate coating is to make sure the strawberries are completely dry.) Holding stem, dip strawberries into dark chocolate and spin around until berry is well-covered. Place on parchment paper. Place in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened.

PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite heart-healthy chocolate treats? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

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