Choosing healthier chocolates

February 14, 2008 6:46:55 PM PST
If life is a box of chocolates, as Forest Gump said in the movie, how do you know which ones to choose?

There's a lot of chocolate around today - 36 million boxes are sold for today, according to manufacturers.

And every piece is tempting.

Georgina Perez describes her tactic, "the one with the nuts....the milk chocolate. I like that. And then anything after that that's left."

Brandan Garza uses has favorites, too. "I usually try to find ones filled with cream - different kints, I like mixtures with chocolate."

But are some chocolates healthier to eat than others?

According to a number of studies, dark chocolate has the edge over milk chocolate, because of its protective, antioxidant effects.

Sue Cunningham, Ph.D., R.D., a nutritionist at the University of Texas, says "Dark chocolate seems to have more of the flavinols that we have identified in chocolate that have certain health benefits."

Many people shy away from chocolates with nuts.

But the combination of protein and unsaturated fat may satisfy your hunger better, so controlling what you eat may be easier.

Don't forget - chocolate is high in fat, sugar, and calories.

So Cunningham urges moderation - "I don't recommend that people rely on chocolate for their source of flavinoids in their diet. I really don't think it makes much difference.

Better quality chocolates also pack more flavor - another key to control.

For an even better taste, Cunningham suggests drinking a beverage, particularly a hot one, with your chocolates.

"It just goes so well together, coffee with chocolate, tea with chocolate, wine with chocolate."