To Your Health

To Your Health By Pam Schaefer I have some sweet news for everyone who dreams of their beloved chocolate one day being removed from the forbidden list! As many would agree, eating chocolate is one of life's greatest pleasures, and more evidence proves that it's good for your heart.

Dark chocolate may help reduce levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol and raise the HDL or "good" cholesterol. This may help reduce your risk of heart disease. The reason: dark chocolate is richer in cocoa than milk chocolate and cocoa contains flavonoids, natural antioxidants that help prevent cancer and heart disease. A recent study by researchers at Cornell University found a glass of cocoa contained more antioxidants per serving than red wine, green tea or black tea.

Even the fat in chocolate isn't as bad as it could be. One-third of the fat found in chocolate is steric acid. This type of fat seems to have no effect on blood cholesterol. Another third of the fat in chocolate is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil that has been found to be beneficial for heart health.

Despite this sweet news, eating too much chocolate does have its drawbacks. Chocoholics should be aware of their portion size to avoid consuming too many calories causing unwanted weight gain. A little bit of chocolate can go a long way. Make it an occasional indulgence and choose the best chocolate, instead of cheap candy. Pick your favorite and eat it slowly and savor the taste, smell and texture.

Another way to savor the taste of chocolate is to combine chocolate with a filling dessert such as strawberries and you'll feel twice as satisfied. Enjoy this sweet succulent chocolate fondue with your sweetie.

Sweet and Succulent Chocolate Fondue

Serves 6

1/2 cup Hy-Vee sweet cream butter

3/4 cup Hy-Vee granulated sugar

1/2 cup Hy-Vee cocoa powder

1 tsp. Hy-Vee vanilla extract

1/2 cup Hy-Vee evaporated milk

1 tsp. Hy-Vee instant coffee powder

1/4 tsp. Hy-Vee ground cinnamon

Fresh strawberries, optional

Hy-Vee dried fruit, optional

Hy-Vee large marshmallows, optional

Brownie chunks, optional

All you do:

1. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat until melted.

2. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder until combined.

3. Add vanilla, evaporated milk, instant coffee powder and cinnamon. Stir.

4. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm.

5. Serve with an arrangement of fresh strawberries, dried fruit, marshmallows and brownie chunks if desired.

Hy-Vee registered dietitians are available to the public to answer questions about smart eating. For more information, recipe ideas, or to contact the Hy-Vee dietitians, visit www.hy-vee.com and click on health or call toll-free 866-865-4878.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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