If you want a healthier alternative to candy this Valentine’s Day — but aren’t brave or foolish enough to send your sweetie a large bunch of kale — try this simple treat. It combines two romance-friendly ingredients: strawberries and chocolate.
Strawberries not only are heart-shaped, but they also offer a wonderful source of antioxidants, which offer protection from damaging molecules called free radicals, possibly helping to prevent blood vessel disease, cancer and other conditions.
Strawberries are also loaded with vitamin C to boost your valentine’s immune system and offer a very good source of dietary fiber, iodine, folate, potassium and many other minerals.
Chocolate, when eaten in moderation, provides its own set of benefits. Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, comes from cacao beans, which are full of polyphenols known as flavonoids, which, among other benefits also:
- Increases one’s good cholesterol (HDL)
- Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL)
- Lowers blood pressure
Dark chocolate is your best option, as milk chocolate is typically quite high in sugar and cream. Bittersweet dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (generally 60 percent to 80 percent) offers the most health benefits without tasting too bitter to enjoy.
Keep in mind that neither dark nor milk chocolate is a low-calorie food, so moderation (3 ounces or less per day) is the key. Drizzle, not dunk, the strawberries with chocolate.
The fastest, easiest way to melt and drizzle chocolate:
- Heat a handful of dark chocolate chips or a chocolate bar in a microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute. Repeat in 0:15 increments, stirring between each cycle. When chocolate is smooth and shiny, you’re ready.
- Transfer chocolate into a squeeze bottle or plastic bag. Snip off a small corner of the bag. Squeeze the bottle or bag to drizzle.
Serving size: 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (166 g)
- 49 calories
- 1 g protein
- 12 g carbohydrates
- 3 g dietary fiber
- 7 g sugars
- 2 mg sodium
- 233 mg potassium
- 2% calcium
- 3% iron
- 149% vitamin C
Serving size: 16 chips of bittersweet dark chocolate with 60 percent cacao (15 g)
- 80 calories
- 6 g total fat (4 g saturated fat)
- 1 g protein
- 8 g carbohydrates
- 1 g dietary fiber
- 6 g sugars
- 6% iron