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The Truth About Valentine's Day Chocolates
'Tis the Season of Chocolates
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, how are you planning to show your sweetheart just how much they mean to you? What about getting them a lovely box of chocolates? It’s one of the most well-received Valentine day gifts. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate?! But did you know that not all Valentines day chocolates are created equal? Read ahead to find out why.
Harmful Ingredients Lurking in Your Chocolate
Mmmm, chocolate - the perfect Valentines gift for him and for her. Did you know that when eaten in moderation, chocolate is actually good for you? Studies have shown that the antioxidants in chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease depression and anxiety, and even increase libido (how fitting for V-Day!)
But the problem is that most conventional chocolate companies throw in a bunch of preservatives and artificial colors and flavors into their chocolate to trick your taste buds into believing that what you’re eating is good for you. And those very same companies take advantage of V-Day by charging a premium for their chocolate boxes. But simply because it costs more doesn't mean it's of higher quality...
Fortunately, we’ve entered the era of the health-conscious consumer. Fewer and fewer people are falling victims to marketing trickery. Before we buy a product, many of us now flip over to the ingredients list to see if all is in order. So before you grab that box of Dove or Lindt valentines chocolates, make sure to educate yourself about the hidden harmful ingredients lurking beneath the façade of chocolate-y goodness:
Why it's bad
Partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat)
Hydrogenated oils are full of trans fat which pose numerous health risks, the primary being heart disease. While trans fats can be found in nature, most of the trans fats found in processed foods are artificial and are intended to extend the shelf life of products.
Artifical colors and flavors
Cocoa is brown, right? You’d be surprised by how many chocolate manufacturers include artificial colors (e.g. caramel color) and flavors (e.g. vanillin) in their chocolates. These harmful ingredients are designed to mask the low quality of the chocolates and trick our senses.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Derived from corn, but far from natural, HFCS is used in place of sugar in many food products - including chocolate. It is sweeter, easier, and cheaper to manufacture than sugar. It is not natural, and it is not absorbed in the same way as sugar. Many scientists and experts do not support the use of HFCS, as it has been shown to contribute to a plethora of ailments, including obesity, metabolic disturbances, diabetes, and even cancer.
Pure, Honest, Guilt-free Chocolate
I’m a big chocoholic, and I can’t wait for my hubby to ‘surprise me’ with a box of chocolates this Valentine’s day (which also happens to be our 6 year anniversary!). He knows I’m pretty health conscious and won’t go near anything that contains an ingredient I can’t pronounce. And he knows that if he buys me a box of Godiva or Ghirardelli chocolates, I’ll likely throw it away (after I go, “Aww”, and give him a quick kiss on the cheek, of course).
So if you’re like me and love chocolate, don’t despair – there is hope! Hundreds of companies are springing up all over the country that make pure and honest chocolate, using only high quality, natural and organic ingredients. Here are some tips to help you choose the best quality chocolates for your sweetie this Valentine’s day:
Are you aware of the harmful ingredients in many Valentine's Day chocolates?
- Choose organic. Organic chocolate is minimally processed and the cocoa beans from which it is derived have not been sprayed with harmful pesticides. Many companies that manufacture organic chocolate are also sustainable, so you’re not only buying chocolate that tastes better and is better for your health but you’re also supporting local farmers and decreasing humanity’s carbon footprint. I personally LOVE Green & Black’s 85% Cocoa Organic chocolate. Why? Because it’s delicious, and the ingredients are pure and honest. Find it at most natural food stores, as well as Wal Mart (I was shocked too! At a little more than $2 bucks a piece, it’s a pretty good bargain)
- Design your own chocolate gift basket. Can’t find the perfect box of Valentine’s Day chocolates? Make your own gift basket! Stack a handful of mini organic chocolates into a basket, add a couple of fruits for decoration, tie it with a bow and voila – you’ve got yourself the perfect valentines chocolate gift basket. Get creative by adding a photo of you and your sweetie to the basket - she’ll appreciate the personal touch.
- Skip the chocolate box altogether. This one’s not going to be easy, but if you’re absolutely stuck on finding a healthy box of chocolates for your sweetie, skip it altogether. There are a ton of other valentine day gifts you can give them instead. Consider making your own homemade chocolate!
So this Valentines Day, don’t poison your valentine - get her a box of chocolates that’s good for her mind, body, and soul. She'll thank you for that!