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HomeAt Home & BeyondThe perfect Valentine’s Day healthy treat: A healthful duo

The perfect Valentine’s Day healthy treat: A healthful duo

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Give your Valentine the gift of health with pomegranates and dark chocolate.

We all want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a sweet treat, particularly chocolates. Americans consume a mind-boggling 3 billion pounds of chocolate every year, but all those fancy-wrapped, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates aren’t doing us any favors when it comes to our health. They may taste divine, but not all chocolate is created equal.

Valentine’s Day may be about romance, but it’s also about showing your love for your partner and loved ones. So, if you are at all health conscious, you might consider giving dark chocolate gifts instead to celebrate the day. Dark chocolate is widely known to have certain health benefits, like putting you in a good mood.

Generally, dark chocolate has quadruple the amount of fiber and more than half the daily recommended amounts of iron, copper, and magnesium. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has no more than 10 percent.

The cacao base of chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, specifically a type called flavonoids. Antioxidants are naturally occurring or synthetic substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage, according to USDA.gov.

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They are critical in balancing the body’s physiology, and without them, cell damage might trigger certain diseases. Studies have also found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate could potentially protect cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and overall inflammation.
Simply put, the darker the chocolate (more than 60 percent cacao), the less sugar it contains and the more antioxidant/flavonoid-rich it is.
A bar of dark chocolate weighing about 1.5 ounces contains approximately 950 milligrams of antioxidants, while a similar bar of milk chocolate contains only about 400 milligrams. White chocolate is a confection of fat and sugar and contains no antioxidants.

Just like tea, coffee, and beer, dark chocolate is an acquired taste. If you do not like it at first, don’t give up. It will grow on you.
Another Valentine’s Day food you might want to consider combining with that rich dark chocolate is pomegranate.

Pomegranate is a ridiculously nutrient-full, antioxidant-rich fruit. It is probably one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can get your hands on. Originating in Persia (Iran), it is revered in many cultures as a symbol of health, fertility, and eternal life. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice, for example, has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.

Whether you’re looking for boxes of chocolate, cakes or something totally creative, consider Hernando Sun’s recipe combining these two rich sources of antioxidants and flavonoids. Together, the dark chocolate and the sweet, citrus juices of the pomegranates will ensure a flavorful explosion in every bite.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate and Pomegranates
Nutrients in one pomegranate include:

Phosphorus, 102 mg
Vitamin C, 28.8 mg
Folate, 107 mcg
Vitamin K, 46.2 mcg
Choline, 21.4 mg
Source: (NIH)

Surprise your sweetheart with this decadent dessert
Love is in the air, and we all like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a sweet treat. It’s the perfect way to show your sweetheart how much they are loved. There are many ways to show our love, like simply taking time to be together, but nothing beats serving up a decadent dessert.
Try these Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate Medallions — they are not only easy to make but are also heart-healthy for your sweetheart.
This no-bake recipe has only two ingredients — fresh pomegranate arils and rich dark chocolate. The citrus pop of the pomegranate arils complements the deep, rich dark chocolate. A perfect duo.

RECIPE
Ingredients
10 ounces dark chocolate
Fresh pomegranate arils
(Gently dry fresh arils with a paper towel, if needed.)

Directions
Line baking sheets with parch
ment paper or waxed paper.

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie or microwave in increments until completely melted.
Pour a dessert spoon of chocolate onto the lined sheets about a couple of inches apart and let the chocolate spread and flatten out into disks.

Decorate the disks with the pomegranate arils and allow the chocolate medallions to rest for a few minutes.
Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Refrigerate until serving time.

Sue Quigley is a regular contributor of The Hernando Sun. She can be reached at 727.247.6308 or at [email protected].

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