In today’s Longevity Kitchen episode, I’m featuring one of my favorite anti-aging foods: dark chocolate. Chocolate is universally adored and appreciated by people everywhere … and it’s one of the most popular sweet treats in the world. Dark chocolate is luscious, delicious and versatile, and it has proven heart and brain health benefits. Don’t feel guilty; grab a (small, 1-ounce) piece of dark chocolate and savor every bite.
Chocolate comes from cacao, which is found in the seeds of football-shaped pods that grow on the cacao tree. So yes, there IS such a thing as a chocolate forest! I’ve never been in one, but I’m SO ready to go! Today, I’ll tell you why dark chocolate is good for our health, share a brief history of chocolate, explain the differences between different types of chocolate, and serve up some delicious recipes including my Crunchy Dark Chocolate, Cherry & Pecan Clusters; they are crispy and yummy and very easy to make.
Check out this roundup of 37 recipes from my kitchen and the kitchens of my fellows registered dietitians. If recipes like Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Strawberry Pretzel Dessert, and Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Baked Oats sound good to you, you’re going to adore this recipe roundup.
Click here for my Crunchy Dark Chocolate, Pecan, and Dried Tart Cherry Clusters.
- The basics to know about dark chocolate:
- Cacao is high in magnesium and antioxidants.
- Dark chocolate has higher amounts of cacao and less sugar than milk chocolate.
- The health benefits are greater with dark chocolate than other varieties because of the phytonutrients, which may play a role in cancer prevention and heart health.
- Other health benefits of dark chocolate include reduced inflammation, lower blood pressure, better cholesterol levels, improved cognition, better mood, better gut health, and improved blood sugar levels. There is some evidence of dark chocolate preventing memory loss and lowering the risk of Type-2 diabetes.
- The facts: dark chocolate has more antioxidants than green tea or red wine (The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants.)
- How dark and how much? Choose a cacao content of 70% or higher, and eat about an ounce each day for maximum health benefits.
- We go WAY back for a brief history of chocolate, spanning the Olmec tribe of present-day Mexico in 1500 BC, the Mayans, Aztecs, and Spaniards. (It was in the early 1800s when chocolate became available to the masses, and aren’t we thankful?!)
- Important nutrients in dark chocolate include iron, fiber, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
- Chocolate isn’t just for desserts; there are great savory recipes for Triple Chocolate Beef and Bean Chili and Eggplant Caponata. (I will be trying these!)
- My new recipe for Crunchy Dark Chocolate, Pecan, and Dried Tart Cherry Clusters – they are made with dark chocolate chips, flaked cereal, chopped pecans, and dried unsweetened tart cherries.
- From the Dark Chocolate Recipe Roundup:
- From Laura @lauramali.com: Dark Chocolate Orange Mousse is made with dark chocolate, silken tofu, orange zest, agave syrup, kosher salt, orange-flavored liquor, and sliced strawberries.
- From Jackie @jackienewgent.com: Double Chocolate Banana Dessert Bread is made with whole wheat pastry flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, ripe bananas, chopped pistachios, vanilla and almond extracts, bittersweet chocolate chips, sugar, butter, and eggs.
- From Kelly @kellyjonesnutrition.com: Vegan Turtles are made with dates, salt, walnuts or pecans, dark chocolate chips, and cayenne pepper.
- The differences in types of chocolate, including cocoa powder, dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.
Savory recipes with dark chocolate:
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