Close your eyes and say the word "Chocolate." Envision hot fudge sauce melting on a mound of vanilla ice cream, an enormous bowl of double-dipped chocolate walnuts and a triple-layer devil's food cake with dark chocolate frosting...ahhhhh! Now envision all those calories accumulating on your waistline...aaaarrrrgh! Want to enjoy chocolate without guilt? First, learn about the benefits. Then get ready for our luscious list of the top six most delicious, healthy ways to dig into this divine delight!
The benefits: Chocolate contains heart-healthy antioxidants, and studies show that it can lower your blood pressure. In addition, a study indicated a correlation between intelligence (based on the number of Nobel prizes won per country) and consumption of chocolate. And another study showed that those who eat chocolate tend to weigh less, according to Reuters. Now that you know all the reasons to savor, here's your list of the six healthiest scrumptious chocolate treats:
- Sugar-free diet cocoa provides you with heart-healthy antioxidants. Best brand: Swiss Miss Diet Hot Cocoa Mix for 25 calories a cup.
- Reduced fat chocolate ice cream gives you protein and dairy with fewer calories than traditional ice cream. Recommended: Dreyer's Slow-Churned Chocolate ice cream with 100 calories per serving and Arctic Zero Chocolate 150 Calories Per Pint.
- Enjoy a small amount of dark chocolate made in Europe, which WebMD reports is richer in cocoa phenols than those made in the U.S. Cocoa phenols reduce your blood pressure. The higher percentage of cocoa, the healthier it is. Recommended: Lindt Excellence Extra Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa.
- Dried and roasted cocoa beans known as cacao nibs have become increasingly popular for their intense flavor. Try Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs sprinkled over yogurt for a healthy breakfast.
- Dr. Mehmet Oz lists chocolate-covered nuts as his favorite "guilty pleasure." Keep the amounts small to eliminate the guilt factor and savor the benefits! Recommended: Trader Joe's Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds.
- Do you grab a doughnut or sweet roll for breakfast? Shift to a delicious, healthier way to kick-start your day by stirring a handful of Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips into a bowl of hot Arrowhead Mills Organic Hot Cereal.