February 2017 
Dear Valued Member, 
 
Thank you for continuing to learn during your healthy lifestyle journey. In this issue, Sue Heikkinen sorts through whether chocolate is a health food or just another simple joy in life. Learn how chocolate impacts our brain and heart and find tips for getting a healthy chocolate fix.  Check out the two simple recipes using dark chocolate to make with, or for, your loved ones. 
   
If you are trying to prevent diabetes, it is important to have your A1c (blood sugar) lab test rechecked six months after starting any weight loss or exercise efforts.
  
Health & Happiness,
 
Your Registered Dietitian Team
Kaiser Permanente
 
"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." 
   -Martin Luther King, Jr.


Can Chocolate Be Good for You? 

Sue Heikkinen, MS, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian, Kaiser Permanente

February is National Heart Month, as well as the biggest month for chocolate purchases. Whether it comes in a heart-shaped box or not, chances are there is chocolate in your future. Guilty pleasure? Health food too good to be true? Let's sort it out...
 
Know your chocolate: Click here for a chocolate glossary

Does Chocolate Protect Your Heart?

While the added sugar and fat abundant in most chocolate concoctions does our hearts no favors, chocolate may offer some heart protection. Flavanols¬≠¬≠-powerful antioxidants found in cocoa-may help improve blood flow. Numerous studies show that 1.5-3 ounce servings of dark chocolate daily can lower blood pressure by about 2-3 points. (Reality check: a 1.5-3 ounce serving of dark chocolate contains 200-400 calories).

 

Typically, added saturated fats in chocolate products can raise cholesterol. While mostly a saturated fat, the fat in cocoa butter tends not to raise or lower blood cholesterol levels.

 

Your Brain on Chocolate?

Is it any surprise that chocolate is the number one reported food craving in the United States? Chocolate may help boost natural endorphins, and the mouthfeel of melting chocolate is very enjoyable. As anyone who has reached for a pint of chocolate fudge ice cream after a tough day knows, chocolate cravings are higher when we feel down.

 

Chocolate can have a mild stimulatory effect. Contrary to popular belief, the caffeine content of chocolate is minimal. A typical serving has about as much caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee.

 

How About a Nutrient Boost?

Chocolate can be a good source of magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Though chocolate's nutrition profile pales in comparison to leafy green veggies, it has more nutrition than pure sweets like jelly beans. Realistically, most people are not eating chocolate for the nutrition. Let's not forget the nutrient most of us are not lacking-calories. Enjoy a small amount of chocolate for what it is-

a treat!

 

Tips for Getting a Healthful Chocolate Fix:
  • Add cocoa powder to smoothies, coffee drinks or oatmeal
  • Top a bowl of berries with chocolate shavings
  • Add cocoa nibs to a muffin or pancake batter
  • Dip banana slices or cherries in melted chocolate and freeze
  • Add semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips to nuts and dried fruit to make trail mix
  • Incorporate cocoa powder into chili or Mexican mole sauces
  • Remember to savor the flavor and smell the texture of the chocolate 

Weight Management Programs

Based on successful strategies, this 1-year program provides the tools needed for weight loss and diabetes prevention. Classes are offered throughout the Colorado region. To register for a class, call 303-614-1070 or 1-800-218-1059 (TTY 711).

Get paid to achieve a healthy weight when you visit a Weigh and Win kiosk at least once every 90 days to track your weight.
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Resources, Recipes, and Cooking Tips
Nutrition Services| Kaiser Permanente | Phone | Email | kphealthyme.com