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Chocolate - A Gift Good for the Heart
Provided by the American Dietetic Association: Your Link to Nutrition & Health

Trying to figure out what to get your sweetheart for Valentine's Day? How about the good-old traditional box of chocolate? As many would agree, eating chocolate is one of life's greatest pleasures. And more evidence proves that it's good for your heart.

Chocolate - particularly dark chocolate - contains antioxidants and specific flavonoids that have been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil, makes up one-third of the fat in chocolate and has been shown to be beneficial for heart health.

Of course we're not the first to recognize chocolate as a health benefit. Europeans living in the 17th century viewed chocolate as a healing power. It was used to treat anemia, tuberculosis, fever and gout. And, of course, chocolate was viewed as a way to strengthen the heart.

If you plan to celebrate Valentine's Day with a little bit of the sweet stuff, below are some tips on how to properly enjoy fine chocolate.

Chocolate is best tasted on an empty stomach. The proper temperature of the chocolate should be between 66 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Never put your chocolate in the refrigerator - it will cause the cocoa to separate and form a white 'bloom.'

If you are trying several different chocolates, always start with the one that has the least cocoa, most likely a milk chocolate - unless it's white chocolate, which has cacao butter, and no cocoa at all.

When tasting dark chocolate, let the chocolate sit in your mouth for a few seconds to release its primary flavors and aromas. Then chew it a few times to release the secondary aromas. Let it rest lightly against the roof of your mouth so you experience the full range of flavors. Finally, enjoy the lingering taste in your mouth.

Chocolate Myth Meltaways

Myth: Chocolate causes acne. That misconception has captured the attention of teens for years. However, hormonal changes during adolescence are the usual causes of acne, not chocolate.

Myth: Chocolate has a lot of caffeine. While it's true that chocolate does supply caffeine, the amount is very small. An eight-ounce carton of chocolate milk contains about five milligrams of caffeine. In contrast, five-ounces of regular-brew coffee contains 115 milligrams of caffeine.

Myth: Some people are chocoholics. Not true - although some people do have a stronger preference for chocolate than others. While popping chocolate candies may become a high-calorie habit with a pleasurable sensation, eating chocolate itself can't become truly addictive.


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