Roses are red, violets are blue, chocolate is sweet ... but is it good for you?

The holiday of love, chocolate, candy, and cupid is upon us. While I am all about celebrating love, I don’t want months of staying on track to turn into a downward spiral with uncontrollable chocolate and candy binges because that first nibble got you hooked and now you are unable to shake off that sweet tooth. Indulging in your favorite sweet treat on Valentine’s day is 100% acceptable, even slightly encouraged, but if you are going to break into your secret stash, make a trip to your nearest specialty candy shop or order that tempting chocolate soufflé at your candlelight dinner for two, make sure you choose something that you love. It will make it that much sweeter. Then let February 15th be like any other day and get back on track.

But if you don’t want to even tempt yourself (because chocolate is just THAT good), here are some great healthy sweet treats that won’t be responsible for any extra pounds on your would-have-been-fine-behind:

  • Blissingers 100 calorie Chocolate Bar- not only is it tasty and only 100 calories but its also gluten free!
  • Adora Dark Chocolate Calcium- this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone: statisfy your chocolate craving and get your calcium and vitamin D intake for the day. Be warned, only 3 a day of these treats because you don’t want to take in too much calcium.
  • Karma Cookie: Chocolot: this is one of my personal favorites! Similar to a flourless chocolate cake but with only half the calories (190 calories for whole cookie), oragnic and is egg, dairy, gluten and soy free so its definitely one to nibble on if you have these dietary restrictions.
  • 100 calorie dark chocolate peanut butter packet: delicious creamy chocolate peanut butter in a pack! Can anything be better?
  • Blue Diamond oven roasted dark chocolate almonds: When you need a quick snack but don’t want to fuss with measuring out the correct portion, this should be your go to because they come in 100 calorie packs and will fulfill your nutty and chocolaty craving.
  • Organic fiber bar by Renew Life- chocolate dream flavor. This bar has 14 g of fiber, is only 170 calories and is super chocolately! Its a great way to get in your daily fiber too!
  • Matt’s Munchies: fruit leather choco nana flavor. Only 90 calories and jam packed with that banana chocolate flavor we all love. Made with no artificial ingredients and gluten free, it is nice and chewy so it will last a long time.
  • Mighty Leaf Chocolate Mint Truffle herbal tea. This is great for after dinner when all you want is that little something sweet. It can act as a palate cleanser as well with a little hint of chocolate and mint.
  • Sweetriot- 100% cacao ribs. These are tiny pieces of cacao (the bean that chocolate is made from). You can snack on them one at a time for 1-2 calories or each the entire container for only 140 calories.

Thinking about what is the perfect sweet to give your significant other without giving him/her extra inches, there’s only one place to look, in the kitchen! This year, why not save on calories and go extra thoughtful and homemade with dark chocolate covered strawberries,  or cherry almond chocolate clusters.

And while we are on the subject of chocolate, I’m sure you’ve heard the tempting rumors about the benefits of dark chocolate, so I might as well clear up some gossip so you can make a level headed decision when faced with 7 chocolate options (80%, 70%, milk, white, dark, mint…) at the store. Lets go from lightest to darkest, which means white chocolate steps up to the plate. Fun fact: white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate at all. In order to be categorized as chocolate, the product must include chocolate liquor (non alcoholic) and white chocolate is comprised of cocoa butter, milk, heaps of sugar and flavoring, but no chocolate liquor- so why waste your money on something pretending to be chocolate? I don’t!

Next on deck we have milk chocolate, which unfortunately isn’t much better than its chocolate-posing counterpart white chocolate, aside from its authenticity. It contains a lot of sugar, flavor and dairy that will sky-rocket the calorie and sugar count.

Moving on to our star player, dark chocolate. While I don’t condone incorporating dark chocolate into your diet on a regular basis, if you’re going to do chocolate in small amounts this should be your go to (key word: small amounts). It’s high in antioxidants and may reduce LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), inflammation and blood pressure. And have you ever wondered why your loved one gives you chocolate to put you in a better mood? That’s because chocolate can increase dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and improves your mood. The different levels of dark chocolate are indicative of the concentration of antioxidants (aka higher percentage of cocoa, the plant in which chocolate is derived from). Milk chocolate is 20-50%, semi-sweet chocolate is 50-69% and bitter is 70%+. So after 70% it will get more bitter but the antioxidant count doesn’t drastically change so there is no need to suffer through the extremely bitter stuff when the nutrition pay off isn’t much better. And since you asked, the flavored chocolates (caramels, mint, orange, pear etc) do not add any nutritional value so you might as well eat the whole fruit instead if it’s the flavor you crave!

So what happens when you are so loved that you are faced with 20 kinds of Valentine’s day treats? Here is a quick table-

Happy Valentine's Day!

Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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