Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love and one of the most popular holidays to give and receive chocolate. Chocolate is the most sought out candy for this holiday. According to “Fortunly.com/statics/valentines-day-spending,” American’s spent $1.8 billion on candy, and about 24% of that was on chocolate.
So, is chocolate a gift of health? Let’s look at the facts and you can decide. We know that there are different kinds of chocolate. There is milk chocolate, my favorite, white chocolate, and dark chocolate. What makes them so different? Dark chocolate is made from 50 – 90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. Milk chocolate is made from 10 – 50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and some form of milk. Lower quality chocolates can have added butter fat, vegetable oils, or artificial colors or flavors. Then there is white chocolate, which is not made from cocoa at all, but of cocoa butter, sugar, and milk.
Cocoa is rich in plant chemicals called polyphenols. Polyphenols have been researched and linked to many health benefits, like lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, preventing blood clots, fighting cell damage, and even supporting brain health. Dark chocolate contains up to 2-3 times more polyphenols than milk chocolate.
Based on this information, you might say that giving dark chocolate to a loved one is giving a healthy gift. However, there is more to the story. Although cocoa does have health benefits, there are other foods with polyphenols that can contribute to good health, such as berries, beans, nuts, vegetables, and even red wine or grapes. Each of these foods possesses different polyphenols, which aids a healthy body. It is essential to eat a variety of foods with vivid colors for overall health. But, don’t forget the dark chocolate!