Studies suggest savoring the delicious taste, because chocolate, in moderation, can be good for you. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants,, which are responsible for heart health and preventing cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls, thus reducing the risk for heart attack or stroke. Flavonoids, the antioxidants in chocolate, come from the extracts of the cocoa beans. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants it has, and the better it is for you.

Chocolate also contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that can be found in olive oil. This fat does not increase blood cholesterol levels; therefore, helping to maintain heart health. In addition, chocolate includes chemicals that help to lower the risk of sugar-damaged teeth.

It is important to remember that chocolate, along with all these health benefits, is high in calories, sugar, and fat and should be eaten in moderation. Try making it a part of a healthy snack by combining it with nutrient-rich fruits. Althea Zanecosky, registered dietitian and spokesperson, offers a couple of tips to get the most from your chocolate.

Chocolate is best tasted on an empty stomach at temperatures between 66 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
When tasting chocolate, start with the chocolate containing the least cocoa. Let it sit in your mouth to release the primary flavors and aromas. Chew it a few times to experience the secondary aromas. Finally, place the chocolate gently against the roof of your mouth and savor it.

Submitted by Sherri Meyer, MS, RD