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So Valentine's Day is here...... Did you get some chocolate?

 The chocolate we enjoy today is very different from the cocoa that was eaten more than 2,000 years ago. Cocoa was first used by the Maya and Aztecs as a medicinal drink.  The natural plant product, cocoa, and the processed food product, chocolate, are quite different. Chocolate is a combination of cocoa, sugar, milk, and other ingredients to form a solid food product. Chocolate is often viewed negatively because it is relatively high in calories from sugar and fat.

Recent research has linked cocoa and chocolate to improved heart function, lower blood pressure, and improved blood vessel health.  Cocoa is a rich source of flavonoids, even greater than tea and wine. Dark chocolate contains substantially more flavonoids than milk chocolate.

Keep in mind that while chocolate has some health benefits, it is loaded with calories and should be eaten in moderation.

Dark chocolate has the greatest heart healthy benefits.  For only 20 calories, two tablespoons (10g) of unsweetened cocoa powder provides the same antioxidant power as two glasses of red wine, two cups of green tea or three cups of black tea.

Amounts of common chocolate products that contain approximately 100 calories (adapted from The Hershey Company):

Product Amount Equaling 100 Calories
Semi-sweet chocolate 1 ½ baking block (21 g) or 1 ½ Tbsp. chocolate chips (22.5 g)
Bittersweet chocolate 1 ½ baking block (21 g)
Unsweetened baking chocolate 1 ½ baking block (21 g)
Milk chocolate 0.75oz candy bar or 2 Hershey's Nuggets or 4 Hershey's kisses (22 g)
White chocolate 1 ½ Tbsp. white chocolate chips (22.5 g)  

So, enjoy your Valentine's chocolate – but in moderation!

For more heart healthy tips visit

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