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The One Food A Healthy Diet Should Include (It's Not What You Think!)

Doctor's orders! Give your sweet tooth a treat. (Photo courtesy of Westgate Communications, Inc.)

With the recent heat wave that's spreading across the country, we've been turning to all things cool when it comes to food (fruit, please!). But when we chatted with nutrition expert Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, he told us about the one food we should be grabbing off the shelves this summer...chocolate! You don't have to tell us twice.

Chocolate is that good for you? Really? Oh, yes. Chocolate should be an almost daily addition to your diet. It lowers blood pressure, your risk of heart disease and it's just an amazingly healthy food.

So are you saying I should go grab the next Hershey bar I see? No! Milk chocolate has none of the things that we're looking for; neither does white chocolate or those beloved Hershey bars.

What type of chocolate is a smart choice then? Dark chocolate that has a cacao content of at least 60 percent. You'll have to pay attention to your taste buds though: the higher the cacao content, the more bitter the chocolate tastes. When it gets up to 80 percent, it's a little bit tough to take. But if you get some that's right between 60 and 70 percent, you're buying something that's loaded with good stuff. Plus it tastes really good.

How much of it should we eat? You don't need that much, actually—only about two squares a day. To find out why chocolate is one of Dr. Bowden's diet must-haves and for a delicious recipe,

Why is chocolate such a nutritious food? Because of the cacao. It's loaded with antioxidants and contains a lot of different plant chemicals, like flavanols, that help the heart and improve circulation.

Great! Do you know of any cool, yummy recipes that use chocolate? My book, "The 150 Healthiest 15-Minute Recipes on Earth," has a lot of great recipes involving chocolate. Here's a great dessert that will help cool you down.

Antioxidant Cocoa Oat Dreams

  • 1/4 cup milk (dairy, unsweetened almond, soy or rice)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin organic coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup xylitol
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  1. Place the milk, coconut oil, xylitol, peanut butter and cocoa powder in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently to mix until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  2. While the cocoa sauce is melting, place the oats, coconut and almond meal in a large bowl and mix lightly with a fork.
  3. Pour the cocoa mixture over the dry mix and stir well with a fork until blended.
  4. Form into loose balls (about one large tablespoon each) and place on waxed paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour to firm them up, then enjoy!

More recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth: Our Favorite Guilt-Free Ways to Eat Chocolate Just Dessert: Lightened Up Chocolate Cheesecake Big Fudgy Bittersweet Brownies  


Samantha Lefave

Samantha is a writer who is living, eating and sweating her way through NYC. You can find her running half-marathons like it's her job, Instagramming her favorite food and fitness finds or, let's be honest, eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

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