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Why It’s Okay to Enjoy Some Chocolate this Valentine’s Day

NCES Heart HealthHave you noticed all the reasons to talk about chocolate in February? Okay… forget about talking about it! Have you noticed all the reasons to EAT chocolate in February? First, of course, you have Valentine’s Day in just a couple of weeks. Then, there’s the fact that February is Chocolate Appreciation Month. But, to top it all off, February is American Heart Month. Have you heard? Chocolate actually contains some important ingredients that have been linked to heart health.

According to an article published by ABC News, chocolate contains Flavonoids, which are more highly concentrated in cocoa. These flavonoids serve as good antioxidants, “scavenging oxygen radicals responsible for damage and aging”. The next thing researchers set out to determine is “Are all chocolates created equal?” In order to answer this question, researchers divided study participants in to four groups, feeding two groups various dark chocolates and two groups various white chocolates. At the study completion, they concluded just what they had suspected. The groups consuming the dark chocolates saw the most heart healthy benefits, including lower blood sugar levels and better cholesterol ratios, due to the increased flavonoids in the darker chocolates.

So, what’s the conclusion? Don’t shy away from chocolate this February. Remember though to consume chocolate, just like other foods, in moderation. 1 ounce of dark chocolate contains about 170 calories. The heart healthy benefits are only worth it if you stay within your daily target for calorie consumption. Plus, it doesn’t take more than about an ounce a day to see the heart healthy benefits.

Don’t shy away from enjoying a glass of red wine with your dark chocolate too! There are a lot of theories right now about how red wine, in moderation, can benefit your heart health and help you stay at a healthy weight. But, that’s for another blog!

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I’ll Toast to That!

How was your Valentine’s Date? We hope it was a great opportunity to refresh and recharge your relationship with your significant other! It’s good for your heart to spend quality time with the one you love the most! BUT, did you know that celebrating Valentine’s Day can be good for your heart in many other ways too? That’s right, a couple of iconic Valentine’s Day staples can give you a happier, healthier heart!

A Glass of Red Wine: Although there is some debate as to the health benefits of wine, it is relatively widely accepted that the alcohol, as well as antioxidants, in wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing good cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is some research that suggests red wines may contain even more heart healthy ingredients than other alcoholic beverages.  Red wine contains Reservatrol. “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces “bad” cholesterol and prevents blood clots.” Mayo Clinic

Dark Chocolate: Tell me this isn’t the best news you have heard all day! That’s right… stop feeling guilty about enjoying your favorite chocolate treats yesterday! Dark chocolate is known to lower high blood pressure. However, there are a few caveats to consider before using dark chocolate as main form of lowering blood pressure!  According to WebMD, “Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure — if you’ve reached a certain age and have mild high blood pressure, say the researchers. But you have to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things.”

So, the moral of the story… As with everything, moderation is key! You must remember to balance the foods you eat with the energy you put out! Remember… our EIEO (Energy In = Energy Out) theory! If you need a little refresher, check out our EIEO tearpads today! And, we hope you had a Happy, Healthy Valentine’s Day!

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Hungry Girl Recipe Feature: Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups moist-style chocolate cake mix (1/2 of an 18.25-ounce box)
  • Two 25-calorie packets diet hot cocoa mix
  • ½ cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon Splenda No Calorie Sweetener
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Place chocolate chips and the contents of both cocoa packets in a tall glass. Add 12 ounces of boiling water and stir until chips and cocoa mix have dissolved. Place glass in the freezer to chill for 25 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Once cocoa has chilled, give it a stir and mix with all other ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whip batter with a whisk or fork for 2 minutes.
  4. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or line it with baking cups. Evenly spoon batter into the pan (batter will be very thin). Place pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Cupcakes will look shiny when done.

Makes 12 Servings.

 Nutrition Info.

Per Serving (1 cupcake): 108 calories, 2.5g fat, 239mg sodium, 19g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g sugar, 2g protein.

Lillien, Lisa. Hungry Girl. Griffin, 2008. Print.

VISIT WWW.NCESCATALOG.COM TO ORDER THE HUNGRY GIRL COOKBOOK.