Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Looking for a sweet and healthy treat for a special someone? I have the perfect recipe for you: Vegan chocolate covered strawberries that are lower in calories with no added sugar. Plus, the homemade factor gets you major points!
These are also wonderful for any romantic occasion or as a gorgeous topper for cakes or cupcakes.
(Photo credit: lePhotography via Flickr).
Wondering about some of the health benefits of cocoa and chocolate?
(Photo credit: Korona Lacasse via Flickr).
Chocolate is popular for a reason. It has been shown to boost levels of serotonin and endorphins in the brain, chemicals that improve mood and pleasure. No wonder it’s Valentine’s Day’s unofficial food!
Cocoa’s bitter taste comes from its flavanols, which research suggests may give chocolate its heart health benefits. Flavonols are types of antioxidants that help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. Gram for gram, cocoa is one of the highest food sources of antioxidants. Two tablespoons of cocoa powder have more antioxidant activity than 3 cups of green tea or 1 cup of blueberries.
Flavanols may help protect the heart and blood vessels. They reduce blood pressure, make blood platelets less likely to clot, and improve blood flow to the heart and brain, lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Processing cocoa using methods such as fermentation and roasting reduces its bitterness but also causes some of the flavanols to be lost. To get the most flavanols, choose raw cacao or cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing (adding ingredients to cocoa to reduce its acidity). Look for products that do not have “cocoa processed with alkali” on the ingredient label.
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