How can Valentine’s Day go without chocolate? While chocolate has always given people the impression of containing high amounts of sugar, fat and energy, quite a few studies have actually shown the delicacy is actually beneficial to health. The key lies in the antioxidant - Flavonoids - that it contains, which is not only good for cardiovascular health and helps maintain a normal blood pressure level, but also boosts brain functions and memories.
1. Chocolate: Dark is healthier than white
The first thing to note when it comes to chocolate is that the antioxidant flavonoids it contains is stored in cocoa solids, not cocoa butter. In other words, the higher the amount of cocoa solids, the more antioxidant flavonoids it contains. Among white, milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate has a lower nutritional value because it only contains cocoa butter, but without any cocoa solids. By contrast, milk chocolate has lower amounts of cocoa solids than dark chocolate, on top of that, milk will also hinder the absorption of flavonoids by our body, therefore from the perspectives of antioxidant content and nutritional value, dark chocolate is a healthier choice.
When choosing dark chocolate, you can start with the portion of cocoa content, because most studies on chocolate’s nutritional value focused on those with 70% or more of cocoa content. Besides, you should also take note of the ingredients listed on the nutritional labels, and avoid those with other unhealthy greasy materials, apart from cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar.
2. Raw Chocolate : the highest antioxidant content
The second thing to pay attention to is the relationship between the antioxidant amounts in chocolate and the temperature at which the raw cocoa beans were roasted and refined. In terms of taste, lightly roasted cocoa products are more fruity, while the more deeply roasted ones are more nutty and bitter. But in terms of nutrition, the higher the roast temperature and the longer the time, the more antioxidant content will be lost in the process. Some raw chocolate made from un-roasted cocoa beans have the highest amount of preserved antioxidant on the market.
But note that a type of “fresh chocolate” from Japan is not actually raw chocolate, the word simply denotes the meanings of “simple” or “fresh”. Don’t mix them up!
3. The healthiest: Brew a cup of hot chocolate with natural cocoa powder
To eat chocolate and to stay healthy, then you have to choose products that have as few additives and food processing as possible. Natural cocoa powder with no additives is a good choice. Manufacturers often squeeze out the butter contained in cocoa beans and only leave behind cocoa solids, before grinding them into powder. That’s why natural cocoa powder is low in fat, but high in antioxidant content, and best for the brewing of a hot chocolate drink! All you need is to heat up 210 grams of diary milk or no-sugar plant milk, and add 1 spoonful of natural cocoa powder, and add the right amount of sugar (not more than 2 spoonfuls) according to your preference. It will be ready after you stir it!
As for some instant chocolate drinks on the market, many of them have been added with sugar, powdered milk, and other addictives, therefore it’s best to drink less!
4. Valentine’s Day Recipe: Crispy almond chocolate
On this Valentine’s Day, why not remember the nutritional facts above, and make some healthy and sweet chocolate for your beloved one.
● Put the almond into an oven, and roast it at 160 degrees Celsius for 10 to 15 minutes until it’s crispy. Then let it cool for a while.
● Choose raw chocolate or 70% dark chocolate, and melt it with hot water separated by a bag or other container.
● Pour the almond into the melted chocolate, stir and then place them flatly on a tray covered with a piece of baking paper. Then put them in a fridge for about 30 minutes until the chocolate solidifies.
● Last but not least, sprinkle some natural cocoa powder on top, then you can give it to your significant other. Happy Valentine’s Day!