Chocolate Fights Cancer, Heart Disease and Colds

Featured Article, Healthy Heart, Nutrition
on February 4, 2009
Cheryl Forberg, the nutritionist for NBC's The Biggest Loser, is a Spry Support Team member. Her new book is Positively Ageless: A 28-Day Plan for a Younger, Slimmer, Sexier You.

It's hard to imagine Valentine's Day (or any other day, for some of us!) without chocolate. And unless you've been on a complete media fast for the last few years, you've heard that health researchers have taken at least some of the guilt out of this guilty pleasure. It's true: Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, can help protect you from heart disease and some cancers and boost your immune system too, thanks to a plant chemical called flavonoids. Plus, ounce for ounce, cocoa powder also contains the highest concentration of age-fighting antioxidants compared to other foods.

But with chocolate, a little still goes a long way. Most chocolate candies and desserts are loaded with sugar, heavy cream, butter and other decadent ingredients that neutralize cocoa's healthy effects. These recipes, though, are light on the bad stuff, allowing their rich flavors to shine. They're good enough for special occasions, and good-for-you enough for an everyday treat—in reasonable portions.